Rooted in principles of mercy, equity and compassion, the pursuit of justice is woven into the fabric of Christianity. The prophetic texts in the Old Testament issue unequivocal statements about social righteousness. In the Gospels, Jesus practices a love so radical that it costs him his life.
At its core, biblical justice is an expression of profound reverence for the dignity and worth of every human being. It is increasingly difficult to speak publicly about justice these days because of the hyperpolarization in politics and faith. Nevertheless, Christian disciples are called to respond courageously to God’s vision of a more just world.
The Hebrew word for this vision is shalom, which is a concept that expresses God’s intentions for human wholeness, peace and well-being. Shalom is both individual and communal. It seems increasingly the case that local and national policies are being driven by what is good for some people without taking into account what’s good for all. In addition, many pastors have the challenging task of standing in the pulpit each Sunday to speak to a group of people they love who have wildly divergent views of what God’s justice looks like.
In whatever way a pastor discerns is the best approach to lead a congregation to understand God’s justice, it is crucial to keep in mind that justice is more than flowery words. Justice is faith in action. Churches must not stop with doing charity; justice-oriented congregations seek ways to instigate change, confront biased systems and advocate for the hurting. This is how we do what God requires of us, which is, according to the prophet Micah, to “do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
A Pennsylvania-based interfaith organization pulls together people from hundreds of congregations to advocate for a safer and more just world.
By Annette John-Hall
Churches called to ministries focused on climate change should also recognize that its impact falls disproportionately on already vulnerable communities.
By Dan Holly
In the second edition of her book, the author of “Dear White Christians” reiterates that listening and responding to calls for reparations precedes the possibility of reconciliation.
Q&A with Jennifer Harvey
Finding an Asian American in the International Civil Rights Museum reminds us that we all have a part to play in tearing down injustice.
By Angie Kay Hong
The head of the Ford Foundation discusses his philosophy of philanthropy, proximity and social justice, including the role faith communities and their leaders should play.
Q&A with Darren Walker
Before you go…
Christian congregations have an incredible power to be catalysts for real change. Whether the issue is affordable housing or the living wage, we are in a unique position to encourage our members to consider the intersection between the prophetic imagination and current state of affairs. Things do not have to be the way they are. The pursuit of justice is fueled by hope — hope in the belief that through God and with God change is possible.
Hope also comes from a clear view of challenges we have overcome in the past. Black History Month is a gift to the Christian church because it reminds us that people who had nothing except hope sought justice and change even when it looked like neither would happen. “So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).
You can always reach me and the Alban Weekly team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next week, keep leading!
Editor, Alban at Duke Divinity
Partner Resource: Lilly Endowment Inc. announces Nurturing Children Through Worship and Prayer Initiative
Through the Nurturing Children Through Worship and Prayer Initiative, Lilly Endowment seeks to support highly promising and creative endeavors that help children come to know and love God and grow in faith.
The Endowment is especially interested in supporting programs that help congregations address one or more of the following objectives:
- Strengthening worship and prayer practices that attend to and respect how children experience God and express their faith.
- Enhancing worship and prayer practices that are more fully inclusive of all children, including children with disabilities.
- Drawing more fully on the arts (e.g., music, visual arts, drama, etc.) to enhance the experience of worship and prayer for children.
- Creating opportunities for Bible storytelling that help children hear and tell stories of faith through worship and prayer practices.
- Enhancing worship and prayer practices that more intentionally connect worship with the daily lives of children and their families.
The Endowment will offer information sessions on February 26 and 27 to discuss the aim and objectives of the initiative, eligibility and the application guidelines. Each session will cover the same information.
Proposals are due by 5 p.m. (ET) on Monday, May 6, 2024.