This issue of MyEDGEmag is devoted to the topic of justice. But what is justice and why is it worth dedicating space to in this publication? I think these two questions need to be answered together.
First, justice is an essential component of who God is—a part of God’s character that should not be ignored any more than His love or His power. Throughout the Bible, God’s heart for justice, for the oppressed and the marginalised is clear. It rises out of the central great truths of the Old and New Testaments that all human beings are created equal in the image of God, and that Jesus’ death offers salvation and hope to all of us, not only some of us.
Second, to quote Martin Luther King, Jr, “A religion true to its nature must also be concerned about man’s social conditions... Any religion that professes to be concerned with the souls of men and is not concerned with the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them is a dry-as-dust religion.” In other words, if our faith—our religion—is to mean anything, it must be relevant and must challenge the injustices we see around us.
And we need to talk about these things, to think about them, to challenge ourselves on the topic of justice. We need to do this because as humans our justice-sensing equipment has become biased. We are far more likely to be sensitive to an injustice that affects us than we are to an injustice that affects others but which has no impact on us. Indeed, we are also increasingly conditioned to be blind to those ways in which an injustice against others might actually benefit us.
This tendency toward selfishness, however, is not how God created us. The fact that we are created in the image of God means we have the capacity for empathy, that is, the ability to imagine ourselves in the circumstances of another and to sense how they would feel. This means we have the capacity to break out of self and to realign our justice-sensing equipment. Reflecting on God’s character of justice and His calling to us as His people to live our lives in His image is a powerful reminder to practice empathy. And, in the words of Micah 6:8, to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God.
Mark Webster is the CEO of Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Australia, and has previously worked with ADRA in Laos, Nepal and the United States.