What does a manger have to do with injustice?
Author: Sarah Rosie Hester, Communications Director
There's been a lot in the news about Justice lately.
Recent events have shown us that there is a hunger in the world for wrongs to be righted and peace to be made a priority for government and social leaders. But this seems like a "worldly" problem, separate from our spiritual concerns, doesn't it? Especially at Christmastime, when we should be sitting at fireplaces with little nativity scenes instead of painting picket signs and making speeches. Aren't these crazy events and ensuing debates something for politicians to address in their suits and pillared buildings? Do Christians have any responsibility to do something?
Let me first encourage you to STOP looking to others examples, articles or think-pieces online for advice on how to approach the issue of injustice. Instead, read scripture!
First, what do we know about the God we follow?
Deuteronomy 10:17-19 - For the LORD your God is God of gods and LORD of Lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. Fear the LORD your God and serve him. Hold fast to him...
Psalm 140:12 - I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.
We know that justice is important to God. He put it in his original laws in the Old Testament to command his nation Israel to carry out justice, and his people sang of his ability to bring peace and right-ness to the world.
So we know He cares about justice. What do we do with that? And does any of this change with the coming of Christ in the New Testament?
In Jeremiah 23:1-6, the Lord told his prophet that he was going to raise up and send a King to his people who will no longer let violence and injustice afflict God's people - he was talking about Christ! Jesus' coming was prophesied together with the coming of Peace and Justice! (See also Isaiah 9:6, and Isaiah 53:10-12.) Jesus himself, during his first coming, spoke with his disciples about his return and the justice he will bring with him at that time in Matthew 24:45-51, and Matthew 25:31-46.
So... let's be clear about what this means:
Our hope is not in laws, our hope is not in Government, nor police, politicians or protests. Our hope is in the coming of a King who is the Prince of Peace and the LORD of Lords.
This Christmas, we are not just celebrating an opportunity to spend time with loved ones. We're not celebrating a pretty tree and lights. We're not even celebrating miraculous signs and wonders that led wise men and shepherds to a baby in a manger!
We are celebrating our sure Hope that the little baby in a manger will not only save us from our sins, but he will dispel darkness and bring justice to a chaotic and troubled world.
How beautiful is that?! What a powerful realization about how our Gospel is straight up GOOD NEWS that we get to bring to people around us!
But, uh... so now what? There is still horrible injustice happening around us every day. We know that Justice is important to God, and is supposed to come to us together with Christ. But what do we do until then? Just wait?!
Romans 12:17-21 - Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the LORD. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
1 John 3:16-18 - This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
We love. We listen. We act justly. We forgive. We reconcile.
As far as we are able, we have a responsibility within our own household to live justly - read Colossians 3:21-4:1. In every moment, whether we are with our spouse, co-workers, family, neighbors, friends, or strangers, we are to love people with the sacrificial love of Christ and do right to them. But there will come those situations like the ones in the news wherein we see an injustice we cannot ourselves correct - and in those times, we wait and pray "Come Lord Jesus" as in Revelation 22:20.
Finally - today - how are you going to live out justice and love to those around you? Sometimes all it takes is asking a simple question to someone who is used to being ignored. Maybe it is forgiving someone who has been estranged, and welcoming them into your home. Or it could be walking across the street and knocking on the door of a neighbor you have never met with Christmas cookies, ready to get to know them and invite them into your life.
Have you heard the song below? Take a listen - let it help you shake off any inaction and remind you that how you LOVE those around you is far more important to God than any religious (or Christmas-y) traditions you keep.