Top photo by the U.S. Navy, photographer Daniel Barker
January 30, 2020
by Ashley Tilghman
Entering this new decade, we see a world that is no stranger to conflict. Tensions continue to escalate in countries where corruption has reigned for too long and people are crying out for change. Refugees struggle to find their place in temporary settlements, unable to return home to their communities that are scarred by violence. Persecution is widespread, imprisoning or tormenting countless souls who dare to live out a faith different than what is deemed acceptable by the greater majority.
So much brokenness exists in need of healing. All people are created in the image of God and need to be loved and valued no matter their circumstances. God calls His people to live a just life, to not only seek to do good in their own lives but to also turn one’s focus towards others, defending the helpless and showing love where it is needed most.
Pursuing justice takes courage – in a world where sin poisons hearts and selfish motives sway people towards injustice to affect the course of nations, to fight for what is right may be a true battle. Many may stand against you and the high cost of this pursuit could cost you everything. Just think of how many opposed Jesus when He made it His mission to serve others, healing the sick, forgiving the sinners, and befriending the lowest in society. In following His life mission to take the sins of the world on Himself, He laid down His life as a sacrifice before God. This was the ultimate pursuit of justice – willingly taking on a punishment He didn’t deserve to reconcile sinners (all people) back to God. 1 John 3:16 says, “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 and sisters.”
God impresses on our hearts the need to love others. Love spurs us to take action. Notice the action words in the Lord’s instructions to His people, “Seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow” (Isaiah 1:17, emphasis added). Our model for doing this is seen in the life of Christ. Justice is found in the very nature of God, going hand-in-hand with God’s righteousness. Psalm 97:1-2 says, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.”
Jesus’ acts of justice are rooted in compassion for God’s people. Rather than seeking to correct what is wrong with the world, responding to evil with hate and criticism, Jesus looks to the people in need, extending mercy and love towards the hurting and the vulnerable. Even when the one in need is in the wrong themselves (think of the adulterous woman for example in John chapter 8), He responds in love rather than condemnation.
We see so much of the opposite of this kind of reaction in how people treat one another today. A spark of anger fuels fires across social media, yet it is love for the hurting that spurs action fueled by the same love that Christ has for His children. Love conquers hate, covering over a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8, paraphrased.).
The evil causing injustice can manifest in many ways: racism, corruption, abortion, human slavery, abuse, genocide, persecution, or other problems. But no matter how dark the problems seem, we have hope in knowing we have a Savior who triumphed over evil once and for all. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Through His strength we can pursue justice, loving others in whatever means he has equipped us to do so. SAT-7 uses satellite television to proclaim Christ’s love to the nations, going into spiritually dark places where God’s Word is not readily accessible and offering hope to the oppressed and the persecuted. What will you do to serve your fellow man, to go against the norm of looking out just for yourself, deciding instead to pursue justice for all people, no matter the cost?