This blog post is part one in a four-part series this month that delves further into the matter of justice and its role in our work at the Clinic.
“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” — Amos 5:24
At the Clinic, we say we “promote justice” through the work that God has called us to do. And as we celebrate our 25th year of service to the community this January, I’ve been contemplating what this actually means. Superheroes continue to clean up at the box office and issues of social justice fill our newsfeed—but true justice is so much fuller than our humanly conception. So what, then, is the biblical core of justice?
We know that God is just and he loves justice. The Bible talks about this in many places: “A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he” (Deut. 32:4). “For the LORD loves justice; he will not forsake his saints” (Ps. 37:27). “For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him” (Is. 30:18).
But why does the Bible pick out justice and God’s love for it as one of the mainstays of his character? There are many reasons, one of them being the importance that the ancient near east placed on kings and rulers being the upholders of a just kingdom—if God is good, then he must also be just. Goodness and justice are inextricably linked. Beyond that, however, there is the story of reality that the Bible conveys.
It is a story of a good God fashioning a good creation with flourishing relationships, described in Genesis 1-2, which is then disrupted by humanity’s desire to pursue its own ways even unto its own detriment (Genesis 3). When that first transgression happened in the Garden of Eden, toxic power dynamics, oppression, deceit, and violence entered into the world. These are all examples of grievous injustice—and they are antithetical to the nature of God.
And yet, they are things that our clients at the Clinic face every day. We sit with those who are crying as they tell us the story of their spouse abusing them; we lament with those who are forced to flee violent and oppressive government regimes simply because they have the “wrong” politics, religion, or ethnicity; and we see the poor being shut out from opportunities because of the color of their skin. These are all the fruits of the wrong use of power that humanity has explored, to its horror, ever since that moment when Adam and Eve made the choice to diverge from God and his justice.
But God is still just. Even though humanity vacillates when it should be acting on behalf of the marginalized, God is just. And that love of justice is anchored in his love of creation and his love for the people he created to fill it. Psalm 33:5 says, “[God] loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.” We see that this love results in God being just and seeking out justice on behalf of the people he has created to flourish.
God is love; therefore, God is just.
Until justice and peace embrace,