In preparation for my upcoming talk on Social Justice at church on Sunday, I have been reading a chapter by Wolterstorff entitled, “Justice in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible”. Today, sitting in a borrowed car in the middle of one of the poorest and most destitute townships in Cape Town, I read about why social justice is so close to God’s heart. Why does God repeatedly and so emphatically enjoin Israel to render justice to the “least of these” – widows, orphans, aliens and the poor? Wolterstorff proposes two answers. Firstly they are to do it as a public rememberance or a memorial of their own deliverance, by God, from Egypt (Lev 19:33; Deut 24:7; Deut 24:21). In response to what God has done for them, and as a public testimony and memorial, they are to do likewise. Ah…the penny drops! *Unless you forgive your brother, I will not forgive you.* *The story of the merciful servant* There is a solid principal here which runs through the Bible, I believe: … out of the forgiveness, redemption and restoration of relationship which Christ demonstrated to us, we are to forgive, redeem, and restore others. And to do so publically as a testimony of the justice which has been meted out to us in Christ.
Secondly, the bringing of justice is God’s own cause. His deliverance of Israel is but one example of His desire for and commitment to justice (Isaiah 58:6-7; Psalm 113:7-8). Israel, and by extension all who call themselves follows of Christ, was to “participate in Yahweh’s cause (abiding commitment to justice) by imitating and obeying Yahweh in pursuing justice” (p. 81). Why? Because “Yahweh loves justice”! (Isaiah 61:8; Psalm 37:28; Psalm 99:4).
“God acts justly and enjoins the doing of justice by his human creatures because God loves justice” (P. 81). This injunction is not arbitrary – rather His “pursuit of justice and Yahweh’s injunction to practice justice are grounded in Yahweh’s love”. God loves people, He DESIRES that they flourish, that they have SHALOM. Justice is indespensable to flourishing and shalom for everyone.
This excites me!
More on this… don’t want to spoil the talk on Sunday!