It is impossible to read the Bible and not see that justice is a theme from start to finish. It is even in the birth of Jesus. Was it fair his parents had to travel? Was it fair that he was born in a barn? Was it fair Herod wanted the baby dead, so he had all the male children under the age of two in Bethlehem killed?
In Luke 1, we find an often unnoticed piece of scripture referred to as Mary’s song. Even in the midst of a sudden pregnancy, dealing with the real fear of being an outcast and knowing that Joseph would not reasonably be allowed to marry her now…Mary sings of God’s justice:
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. [Luke 1:50-53]
If we perceive ourselves as believers, we cannot ignore the things God and his people in the Bible cared about. God created an entire year to forgive debts of each other. God freed slaves. The prophets continually pointed God’s people down paths of fighting against injustice. And the ultimate action…sent his son in the form of a baby to grow up and die on a cross so that we could be freed from the bondage of sin. As believers we have the gift of grace, and as believers we have the opportunity to fight for the things that will work to set things right.
What would happen if we stopped adamantly arguing about whether it is Christian to cuss, and started fighting for the things that God wants us to actually fight for…would we discover we are stronger as a whole community? Would we be stronger as a body of believers? Would we be better at making God’s Kingdom look like something everyone wants to be a part of?
It turns my stomach the litany of things that believers choose to fight with each other about. I could take up paragraphs upon paragraphs of examples, and honestly, that makes me sick, too.
If we stopped fighting among believers, would we actually make those that have turned from God and embraced a world of atheism reconsider the truth and love of God?
If we stopped arguing about petty things, and focused on core salvation issues…would we be seen as a community that would be a reflection of God’s acceptance?
We can be strong together. But we have to choose it. We have to stop judging and tearing each other down as believers. This behavior isn’t new. It happened all of the time in the communities Paul was traveling to in the New Testament. He had to write whole letters to correct behavior, so that the community would be seen as an extension and good example of God’s love.
Who is writing us letters? Who is holding us accountable? Where are the prophets to call us out on the things we are doing to distract people from the goodness and truth of God? Where are the people with a message of reconciliation? Where are those that bring hope instead of destruction? Where are those that fight against injustice in our world?
We can be stronger together fighting for justice…for the things that break God’s heart, but will we claim the courage to choose it?