Everyday Justice

Erik Cooper —  June 4, 2009 — Leave a comment

I was honored to be asked by my new friend, Curtis Honeycutt, to write a “guest blog” for his site Just Wallpaper.  The text is below, but check out his site as well (the formatting looks much cooler there anyway).  Amazing guy doing some amazing things.  Thanks for the opportunity to submit something to the dialog, Curtis.

Everyday Justice

What is justice anyway? Is it really the heart of God or is just the latest fad of the Western Evangelical subculture? You know, like pet rocks in the 70’s, hair bands in the 80’s, Saved By The Bell in the 90’s, and American Idol after the turn of the millennium? Is justice just the “in thing” for Christians to do, or is there something deeper? (Of course I know the answer to that question, I just wanted an excuse to reminisce about Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski…those were the days).

If you read the Bible (I mean really read it for yourself, not just let others tell you what it says), there is an undeniable undercurrent of justice:

“For the righteous Lord loves justice. The virtuous will see his face.” (Psalm 11:7 NLT)

“You love justice and hate evil. Therefore, O God, your God has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else.” (Hebrews 1:9 NLT)

“You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed, so mere people can no longer terrify them.” (Psalm 10:18 NLT)

“He will give justice to the poor and make fair decisions for the exploited.” (Isaiah 11:4 NLT)

That’s just a small sampling from a one word search that literally turned up hundreds of scriptures. To ignore God’s call to justice is to be deaf, to avoid blatant instructions so clearly spelled out in His Word. But I’m plagued by practicality. Don’t just give me theories, concepts, or another Facebook cause to join. What does justice really look like lived out? And not by Bono, the UN, or the Red Cross…but in my life. In the mundane reality of my everyday.

It’s so easy to see injustice on a global scale – AIDS, poverty, the global sex trade to name a few. Awareness campaigns and causes are making a dent – Invisible Children, the ONE Campaign, even things like Idol Gives Back (yes, I’m a proud A.I. fan). Build a well, buy a mosquito net, sponsor a child. Global crises are easy to see, and lots of big names are rightly using their celebrity star power to focus our attention. But what about injustices right under our nose? Can we live justice in our own backyard?

Sometimes we don’t act out of ignorance, and we need to be educated. Sometimes we don’t act out of laziness, and we need a good butt kicking. But sometimes we don’t act because the size and scope of how we’ve defined “justice” just seems too overwhelming to undertake. It’s like our brains don’t have a place to file it, so we leave it to the “professionals.” What could I possibly have to offer?

I can’t solve world hunger, but I can help buy food for a neighbor family that’s struggling financially. I can’t fix global illiteracy, but I can teach one person in my community how to read. I can’t eradicate fatherlessness, but I can offer relationship, encouragement, and guidance to a kid who doesn’t get any of those things under his own roof. Injustice is a rampant behemoth. It’s intimidating. But we can’t allow the magnitude of the injustice fostered by our broken world to paralyze us, or worse yet, be our excuse.

Justice is really just service – the willingness to give something I have without regard to what I get in return so that someone else can become all God created them to be. It rights a wrong, fills a gap, raises the water level for everyone. But justice is personal, not trendy. Not only have we been commanded to live it, we really, truly, actually can. Not only across the globe, but right in our own backyard. In the reality of our everyday.

“For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.” (Mat. 25:35-36 NLT)

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