Lent Day 15: Biblical Justice
Is not this the fast that I choose: to lose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
Our nation’s on-going experience with COVID-19 has allowed us all to slow down and take a hard look at parts of our life that we may often neglect. For believers, it is a time for sober reflection on the things we often forget.
Brueggemann invites us to remember and reflect on what God wants for us during this season of Lenten reflection. “The God of the Bible so wants human community to work, right here. But the God of the Bible also tells us what it costs for community to work. What it costs is a harsh criticism of the terrible advantage some have over others. God is indeed “pro-life” for the poor, for the hungry, for the homeless, for the naked. When these become the center of policy, the city becomes both pro God and pro-life.”
In Isaiah chapter 58, which I encourage you to read, the people are seeking their own fast and not the fast that God requires. This can happen to us during lent. We can “sacrifice” what does not cost us anything or require our personal investment. We give up sweets for a season. But neglect the weightier matters of life as God sees them.
In order for us to have true religion and community it will require a reminder from Isaiah 58:7. “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?”
The meaning and emotions associated with the ideas of social justice have become polarizing and politicized. So much so, that we have missed the real meaning of justice. Dr. Tony Evans helps to clarify and define for us what Biblical justice is as reflected in the text of Micah 6:8. “He has told you, O man, 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?”
“Biblical Justice: The equitable and impartial application of the rule of God’s moral law in society. Biblical justice provides society with a divine frame of reference from which to operate. The word justice in scripture means to prescribe the right way. Biblical justice is not a man-made, socially imposed, top-down system ultimately leading to the negation of freedom. Biblical justice promotes freedom by emphasizing accountability, equality and responsibility in providing a spiritual underpinning in the personal and social realms. Biblical justice must always be coupled with righteousness.”
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. 9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
As the people of God, we all want a healing for our nation, but it will not come until real justice, Biblical justice is demonstrated from the heart. Then we will have a healing from fear, hate and brutality. Then and only then will we have peace, joy, safety and success, with our neighbors, next of kin and in our nation. When we cry out for this kind of justice God will answer.
“The promise of God is for here and for now and for you. That promise, however, allows no short-cut, no light for the city without the fast of genuine humanness.” This what we come to celebrate at Easter. The coming together of God’s community, where we are all equal at the foot of the cross, where we all are invited to come together as God’s children with new life in Him. “Imagine, entrusted to people like us—entrusted with true religion, invited to true economics, destined for true community— is a new city, brilliant in its light, powerful in its common faith, beloved in its shared humanity. The light is promised to us. The fast is required of us.”
“Save us Lord, from a religion that ignores the cries of the exploited and oppressed. Lead us into a deeper faith that challenges injustice and makes the sacrifices that must be made to build a society that is ever more truly human. Amen.”
Evans, Tony. The Tony Evans Bible Commentary. Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers , 2019.
Brueggemann, Walter. A Way Other Than Our Own: Devotions for Lent. Kentucky: Westminster John Know Press, 2017.