Remembering God’s JusticeDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
But I know the LORD will help those they persecute; he will give justice to the poor.
If I were to stand up in front of a group of Christians today and say, “God will give justice to the poor,” I would receive diverse responses depending on the nature of my audience. If I were speaking to a mainline Protestant group, chances are people would receive my declaration with approval. In many cases, they would also assume from my use of this language that I leaned to the left both theologically and politically.
Yet if I were to announce to a theologically conservative Christian group, “God will give justice to the poor,” odds are my words would be received tentatively. They also would tend to assume that I was liberal in my theology and my politics, and this would raise suspicions.
It is truly sad that the issue of divine justice has been so colored by our secular and Christian culture that mentioning God’s concern for the poor implies a certain kind of theological and political agenda. The fact is that the Bible is full of statements like Psalm 140:12, which could be translated literally: “I know that the LORD judges the afflicted (fairly) and does justice for the poor.” All Christians, no matter our theology or our politics, should pay close attention to God’s justice, especially to his concern for those who are poor and afflicted.
One of the most encouraging developments among evangelical Christians in the last few decades has been a growing commitment to join the Lord in seeking justice for the poor. Prominent evangelical churches, such as Saddleback Church where Rick Warren is the pastor, have added working for justice for the poor to their commitment to evangelism. Some of the finest organizations in the world that care for the needy are solidly evangelical (for example, World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse).
Christians will flesh out God’s concern for justice in a wide variety of ways. Some of us will prefer liberal political solutions, while others will uphold conservative political values. Some of us will focus on economic development in areas of poverty, while others will seek to feed the hungry. But all Christians are called by Scripture to join the Lord in his care for the poor and the afflicted. We are to be agents of divine justice in this world, even as we await the fullness of that justice in the world to come.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How do you tend to think of “social justice” in relationship to your faith? In what ways are you involved in God’s work of justice? Are there other efforts to which the Lord might be calling you?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, Psalm 140 reaffirms what we see throughout Scripture, namely, that you are a God of justice. In particular, your justice extends to those who would not easily receive it in this world: the poor, the afflicted, the oppressed, the stranger, the orphan, the widow.
Help me, O Lord, to know how I can join you in your work of justice in this world. Keep me from prejudices that would harden my heart against the poor and the oppressed. Show me how I can do justice in my part of this world: as a boss, a citizen, a neighbor, and a parent.
Thank you, dear Lord, for Christian organizations that seek justice for those who so often don’t have it. Bless the work of World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse, Bread for the World and International Justice Mission, and so many other ministries that seek to extend justice and care for the poor. May your people reach out with your love, grace, and truth in tangible ways. May the world see in us the good news we proclaim. Amen.