“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” ~Micah 6:8 (NRSV)
Micah 6:8 gives us a summary of the commandments, just like Jesus’s Greatest Commandments: Love God with all you are, and love your neighbor as yourself. These two summaries fit together well!
In church and in our practice of our Christian faith, we often focus more on the last two parts of Micah. We know worship and faithfulness; we know provision and giving our time and donations.
But do we know justice?
Do we know the issues that plague the folks in our community who are unseen?
Do we know the systems that treat people unfairly if they are poor?
Do we know why some people just don’t have good access to transportation or healthy food?
Do we know why we allow predatory lending in poor communities, places where clients are lied to and taken advantage of?
Do we know how mental illness affects how many people are incarcerated?
Do we know what organizations give support to the most downcast, vulnerable, and do we support them?
The Bible says that God wants us to work for justice. And sometimes we trick ourselves into thinking that that’s not “our thing.” But if we call ourselves Christians, it is! Christ was about justice. Let us be about justice, too.
In the book Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Equal Justice Initiative lawyer Bryan Stevenson writes that one thing he has learned from his experiences working with clients on death row, as well as with children who were given life without parole sentences, as well as others who were wrongly prosecuted, is that in our society, fear and anger are threats to justice.
We have allowed ourselves to prioritize our fear and anger rather than the humanity of another beloved child of God. We have allowed ourselves to call something justice that is the exact opposite of justice.
In our congregation, we all have the opportunity to work for justice, even if we are not actively deciding someone’s fate in a courtroom.
How should we work for justice?
Work to let go our own fear and anger when we are interacting with someone, deciding whether they are worthy of our help.
When we are watching a news story, ask the question of how that story is shaping your perceptions of racial stereotypes and poverty.
If you are a member and leader in a church, seek ways to lead your church to support community programs and organizations that are working for justice.
If you are a follower of Christ, carve out time in your life to visit those who are sick, who are in prison, who are staying in shelters because they have lost their homes.
Most important, be intentional. It’s not just going to happen that you are in the mood one day. Ask questions from someone who has more information, who has been in those settings before. Seek out someone to go with you to an unknown setting, like a jail, or shelter, or hospital. People there need to know that other people care. You can be Jesus for them.