Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Jesus - Justice

(This was passed on to me and needs to be read by you)…

 “There’s a real tension among Christian folk—feeling like if I get excited about justice,
I’m almost competing with the Gospel, I’m almost competing with grace,
I’m almost robbing Jesus of the attention that should be due Jesus.”
—Ken Wytsma
Can you relate? I know I can. There is this pride in me, this feeling of superiority because I’ve awakened to the call of justice. And those who haven’t—those who are still so busy “evangelizing” the world and becoming “holy”—need to get their act together. I mean, seriously, saving people from brothels is so much more important than saving people from hell. 
Well, right there is the problem. Why do we treat justice and evangelism like two separate things? Why do we separate the pursuit of justice from the pursuit of holiness? Why do we say we’re taking Jesus over justice, or justice over Jesus? What are we missing here?
Ken Wytsma in a new book he just came out with called “Pursuing Justice”  says a couple things…
1. You can’t pursue justice apart from the message of the Gospel.
This generation is called the “justice generation,” a movement of millennials actively pursuing justice. But oftentimes we have the tendency to look down on evangelism work, as if it’s something completely different than what we have been called to do with justice. But there’s something we’re forgetting that Ken highlights:
The whole idea of the Gospel is that unjust people can stand next to a just God as if they were just—and that happens through a process of justification, by which we are justified. This is what God promised in Isaiah, something He would do to reconcile us to Himself. That His own right arm would work justice through the Messiah, and that this was good news.
So how can you understand that whole story without the idea of justice? It’s so interlaced. But we hear justified and just and justification, and then somebody talks about doing justice or pursuing justice… And we don’t even realize it’s the same concept. They’re tied to the same idea! It’s all justice... 
When we say, “Jesus is more important than justice,” it’s a real misunderstanding of what justice is. You cannot separate justice from Jesus. He came to explain what justice is, He came dripping with justice, desiring justice, working for justice as the one who is going to justify the world. His whole internal framework involves justice as a necessary component of who He is. 
So you can’t set the two things up as separate categories and say, “Well, I’m going to take Jesus over justice.” If you take Jesus apart from justice, you’re not really taking Jesus.

2. You can’t pursue justice apart from personal holiness.
How often do we shake our heads in disgust when we hear about pimps and johns exploiting girls for money and sexual pleasure? We get riled up about setting the oppressed free and bringing justice to perpetrators, but are we aware that our own lusts and pornography addictions are a huge part of what fuels the sex demand? 
Do we recognize the role our own corrupt hearts, the destructive habits we form, and the bad examples we set play in the corruption of governments, the number of criminals on the streets, and even the tainted reputation of the bride of Christ? The neglect of our own personal holiness is detrimental to any work of justice we try to pursue, which is something Ken also speaks on:
The danger with the younger evangelicals swinging away from their upbringing is to see morality as a bad thing. You can have someone in church so excited about ending sex trafficking but then think nothing of the implications of their own sex life and their own decisions. 
So the younger generation is missing the fact that you can’t separate the two. If justice is a boat, morality is the part of the boat in the water. You’re not going to be able to help many people if your boat keeps sinking, if you don’t guard your own morality.
Redeeming our view of Jesus and justice
These two points could be concluded in this quote from Ken when he gave a talk at the beginning of The Justice Conference 2013:
“We aren’t supposed to just do justice; we’re supposed to become just.”
Becoming just is a huge part of following Jesus. Not only are we justified in our right standing with God, but we are also learning to be just in our thoughts and actions toward others. And as we become just in word and deed, we pursue holiness, growing in the likeness of Christ. And as we seek after the God of Justice, it only makes sense that we would seek justice in His world.
Prayer Idea: Isaiah 61 is a great illustration of God’s heart for justice, even Jesus claims this passage for Himself in Luke 4:14-30. Spend some time meditating on these two passages. In what areas of your life could you be actively seeking justice? Confess any pride or disobedience in your heart, and ask that God would open your eyes to all aspects of His just character.  

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