Justice. // What’s Love Got to Do With It?

I’ve been thinking A LOT on the subject of justice over the last few months. For me personally, a lot of my reflection stems from the radical differences in the culture I am now facing being back in the United States this year. Seeing and witnessing poverty and social injustices unfortunately seem to be part of an every day occurrence in the kind of life myself and my husband are pursuing in Rwanda. Now, recently here in the States it has become a RADICAL hot topic in the media. I have never been one to swallow everything I hear in the news or even being spoken about by popular leaders, so I decided to do a little study on what God’s Word reveals to me about the topic of justice. The awesome thing about reading the Word of God is that the Holy Spirit can speak through it to minister to us as individuals what part of its message we need to hear right now. I decided to share my study through the verses below. Some of them may appear more relevant or meaningful to you than others, but my hope is that by reading this study, throughout you will find a streamline of truth and peace in the midst of our world’s unstable and always shifting ‘bar of justice’. I challenge you to read all the way to the end.

God’s justice vs. His mercy.

‘And the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the people that when they arrive in the land, Cities of Refuge shall be designated for anyone to flee into if he has killed someone accidentally. These Cities shall be places of protection from the dead man’s relatives who want to avenge his death; for the slayer must not be killed unless a fair trial establishes his guilt. 

            But if someone is struck and killed by a piece of iron, it must be presumed to be murder, and the murderer must be executed….so if anyone kills another out of hatred by throwing something at him, or ambushing him, or angrily striking him with his fist so that he dies, he is a murderer; and the murderer shall be executed by the avenger. 

            But if it is an accident—a case in which something is thrown unintentionally, and without wanting to harm an enemy—yet the man dies, then the people shall judge whether or not it was an accident…If it is decided that it was accidental, then the people shall save the killer from the avenger; and the killer shall be permitted to stay in the City of Refuge.

            All murderers must be executed, but only if there is more than one witness; no man shall die with only one person testifying against him….In this way the land will not be polluted, for murder pollutes the land. You shall not defile the land where you are going to live, for I, Jehovah will be living there.’ – Numbers 35:11-34

Justice comes from appointing wise officials.

‘Appoint judges and administrative officials for all the cities the Lord your God is giving you. They will administer justice in every part of the land. Never twist justice to benefit a rich man, and never accept bribes. For bribes blind the eyes of the wisest and corrupt their decisions. Justice must prevail. That is the only way you will be successful in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.’ – Deuteronomy 16:18-20

Don’t take advantage of others when seeking justice for yourself.

‘If the man is poor and gives you his cloak as security, you are not to sleep in it. Take it back to him at sundown so that he can use it through the night and bless you; and the Lord your God will count it as righteousness for you.’ – Deuteronomy 24:12-13

David was a King characterized by justice.

‘David reigned with justice over Israel and was fair to everyone.’ – 2 Samuel 8:15

King Jeroboam II abused his authority.

‘The rest of Jeroboam’s biography—all that he did, and his great power, and his wars, and how he recovered Damascus and Hamath is recorded in The Annals of the Kings of Israel.’ – 2 Kings 14:28

Jeroboam had no devotion to God, yet under his warlike policies and skillful administration, Israel enjoyed more national power and material prosperity than at any time since the days of Solomon. But Jeroboam’s administration ignored policies of justice and fairness. As a result, the rich became richer and the poor, poorer. The people became self-centered, relying more on their power, security, and possessions than on God. The poor were so oppressed that it was hard for them to believe that God noticed their plight. Material prosperity is not always an indication of God’s blessing. It can also be a result of self-centeredness. God holds us accountable for how we attain success and how we use our wealth. 

Justice is often abused.

‘Justice? You high and mighty politicians don’t even know the meaning of the word! Fairness? Which of you has any left? Not one! All your dealings are crooked: You give “justice” in exchange for bribes.’ – Psalm 58:1

In times of great suffering, don’t turn inward to self-pity or outward to revenge, but upward to God.

Justice will ultimately win over evil.

Read Isaiah 3:10-11

Eventually the faithful will receive God’s reward and the wicked will receive his punishment. It is disheartening to see the wicked prospering while we seem defeated as we follow God’s plan. Yet we must hold on and take heart! God will bring about justice in the end, and we will receive his reward if we have been faithful.

‘Wherever I look there is oppression and bribery and men who love to argue and to fight. The law is not enforced and there is no justice given in the courts, for the wicked far outnumber the righteous, and bribes and trickery prevail.’ – Habakkuk 1:3

Habakkuk was saddened by the corruption he saw around him. In response, he poured out his heart to God. Today, injustice is still rampant, but don’t let your concern cause you to doubt God or rebel against him. Instead consider the message God gave Habakkuk and recognize God’s long-range plans and purposes. Evil is self-destructive, and it is never beyond God’s control. Instead of questioning the ways of God, we should realize that he is totally just, and we should have faith that he is in control and that one-day evil will be utterly destroyed.

‘Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day! Note this: wicked men trust themselves alone, and fail; but the righteous man trusts in me, and lives!’

Habakkuk saw a dying world and it broke his heart. Why is there evil in the world? Why do the wicked seem to be winning? He boldly and confidently took his complaints directly to God. And God answered him with an avalanche of proof and prediction. 

Habakkuk declares that he will wait to hear God’s answers to his complaints. Then God begins to speak, telling him to write his answer in large letters so that all will see and understand. It may seem, God says, as though the wicked triumph, but eventually they will be judged, and righteousness will prevail. It may not come quickly, but it will happen. 

With questions answered and a new understanding of God’s power and love, Habakkuk rejoices in who God is and in what he will do. We don’t have to be afraid to ask questions of God. The problem is not with God’s ways, but with our limited understanding of him. 

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will be happy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my Strength, and he will give me the feet of a deer and bring me safely over the mountains.’– Habakkuk 3:19

At the proper time God will bring about his justice and completely rid the world of evil. In the meantime, God’s people need to live in the strength of his Spirit, confident in his ultimate victory over evil.

Habakkuk had asked God why evil people prosper while the righteous suffer. God’s answer: they don’t, not in the long run. Habakkuk saw his own limitations in contrast to God’s unlimited control of all the world’s events. God is alive and in control of the world and its events. We cannot see all that God is doing, and we cannot see all that God will do. But we can be assured that he is God and will do what is right. Knowing this brings us confidence and hope in the midst of a confusing world.

Why is justice so important to God?

Read Isaiah 3:14

Justice is part of God’s nature; it is the way he runs the universe. Even as sinners we all want justice for ourselves. When government and church leaders are unjust, the poor and powerless suffer. God holds the poor in high regard. They are the ones most likely to turn to him for help and comfort. Injustice, then, attacks God’s children. Because we follow a just God, we must uphold justice.

God’s love vs. His justice.

‘For Moses gave us only the Law with its rigid demands and merciless justice, while Jesus Christ brought us loving forgiveness as well.’ – John 1:17

Love and justice are both aspects of God’s nature that he uses in dealing with us. Moses emphasized God’s Law and justice, while Jesus Christ came to highlight God’s mercy, love, and forgiveness. Moses could only be the vehicle of the Law, while Jesus Christ came to satisfy it. 

Some Old Testament (Law) scriptures that reveal Gods heart of mercy in justice:

Leviticus 19:18

Proverbs 24:28, 29

Proverbs 25:21-22

Lamentations 3:30,31

What God designed for a system of justice with mercy had been distorted over the years into a license for revenge. It was this misapplication of the law that Jesus confronted.

Jesus new approach to injustice:

But I say: Don’t resist violence! If you are slapped on one cheek, turn the other too. If you are ordered to court, and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat too. If the military demand that you carry their gear for a mile, carry it two. Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.’

‘There is a saying, ‘Love your friends and hate your enemies.’ But I say: Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way you will be acting as true soms of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust too. If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even scoundrels do that much. If you are friendly only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even the heathen do that. But you are perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.’ – Matthew 5:38-44

Pilate not concerned for justice:

‘Meanwhile the chief priests and Jewish officials persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas’ release, and for Jesus’ death. So when the governor asked again, “Which of these two shall I release to you?” the crowd shouted back their reply: “Barabbas!” – Matthew 27:20

For a leader who was supposed to administer justice, Pilate proved to be concerned more about political expediency than about doing what was right. He had several opportunities to make the right decision. His conscience told him Jesus was innocent; Roman law said an innocent man should not be put to death. Pilate had no good excuse to condemn Jesus, but he was afraid of the mob. 

Crowds are fickle. If they loved Jesus on Sunday because they thought he was going to inaugurate his Kingdom, they could easily hate him on Friday when his power appeared broken. In the face of the mass uprising against Jesus, his friends were afraid to speak up.

View of God’s justice:

God himself is the standard of justice. Although he has the power to do whatever he wants, he uses his power according to his own moral perfection. Thus, whatever he does is fair, even if we don’t understand it. Our response is to appeal directly to him. 

What the book of Psalm says about justice:

Justice is a major theme in the book of Psalms. The psalmists praise God because he is just; they plead for him to intervene and bring justice where there is oppression and wickedness; they condemn the wicked who trust in their wealth; they extol the righteous who are just toward their neighbors. 

Justice in Psalms is more than honesty. It is active intervention on behalf of the helpless, especially the poor. The psalmists do not merely wish the poor could be given what they need, but they plead with God to destroy those nations that are subverting justice and oppressing God’s people. 

What do you think about injustice?

Some good questions to ask yourself, “Who is my neighbor? Does my lifestyle—my work, my play, my buying habits, my giving—help or hurt people who have less than I do? What one thing could I do this week to help a helpless person?

Culture.

photo collageRecently, I was having a conversation with someone about culture. Making the statement that we should allow for and differentiate a person’s spiritual life based on the culture they are a part of. This statement has been challenging me multiple times over many weeks, and I’m finally putting my thoughts out in writing.

Everything is spiritual. Every breath we breathe is a gift by His spirit. The way we act, the choices we make, the priorities we have, the focus we choose everyday – these choices should be a result of the Spirit. If we live by His Spirit, we keep in step with the Spirit. If ANY culture calls themselves Jesus followers they ought to begin by recognizing their existence and very lives as being spiritual! Therefore we are now new creations! Our culture is gone! Because we belong to a spiritual culture. An upside down kingdom! This is not how the world lives. This is how Jesus lives. This is a Jesus culture! And it doesn’t make sense. It’s not popular. It’s not a culture of becoming like the world to relate to the world. NO. The call to advance the Kingdom is being against the grain. To go against the odds. To sail against the wind, and all the while, resting, in the consistent nature of our outrageously good God!

My vision is not to change a culture, to make African culture be more like American or to make American be more African or European or liberal or conservative or more self-confident or more educated or more politically free, more aware of color or less aware of color. My vision is to be like Jesus. To love His righteousness more than my own. To hate my own ‘self-righteousness’ so that I can receive His.

I want to be transformed by His presence and motivated by His heart. An ambassador for Christ as though God were pleading through me, Come closer to Him! Come to him and find his righteous heart of love. He made himself who is completely pure to be sin on my behalf! That I might become like Him in his perfection.

‘He sees you as perfect for Him. And He wants to make you perfect in His nature. Stamping the image of Jesus on you. And he will not rest himself until you have this revelation of what He is really, really like for yourself.’

I’ve had many friends comment, ‘Kaysha, when you are around, there is so much peace, it’s like I am a better version of myself.’ I am not sharing this to make myself sound amazing…Do you know? This isn’t me! This is Christ in me – the HOPE of glory. I don’t love myself. I love HIM. He is the ONLY perfect one. Looking for His integrity. That is my joy. Looking for His consistency. Looking for His sincerity. When He proves himself to you, which He will, you can’t help but follow after Him into craziness. And live in Him and move in Him. And represent Him. And count everything else as loss for the sake of knowing Him and growing more deeply and thoroughly acquainted with Him- a joy unequaled.

Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christ-like] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature [pursuing spiritual perfection] should have this attitude. And if in any respect you have a different attitude, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us stay true to what we have already attained.

Brothers and sisters, together follow my example and observe those who live by the pattern we gave you. For there are many, of whom I have often told you, and now tell you even with tears, who live as enemies of the cross of Christ [rejecting and opposing His way of salvation], whose fate is destruction, whose god is their belly [their worldly appetite, their sensuality, their vanity], and whose glory is in their shame—who focus their mind on earthly and temporal things. – Phil. 3:12-19

But we are different, because our citizenship is in heaven.

Dare to be of a different culture. Dare to not only be a Christ follower, dare to bend. To be humbled. To become less you, in order to become Christ-like in nature, for then, and only then, will we see Heaven on earth.

Hope is Rising.

I’d like to walk you through a picture-story of our time in Europe to express an experience that I can hardly put into words. Through these photos I hope to share what God did, the beauty we encountered, as well as what was in my heart…europe map

1. The Netherlands / ZandaamIMG_6940We stayed with friends of ours- Hein and Elise who are like family to us by now! It was a huge blessing to enjoy their home and also learn from them as they share about married life, work, and being God’s Love in their community.

One morning we were invited to share at a small gathering where many Iranian refugees were attending to find a sense of community and faith as well as prayer. Most of them were praying for their wives and children still beyond borders. It really moved my heart to think of myself in their shoes. Completely helpless to connect with those you love most. The situation forces complete reliance on God and His heart to prove good beyond disaster and disconnect we experience in this world. His desire is to not only to unite family, but to unite nations!IMG_6958All of this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. That God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. – 2 Cor. 5:18-19IMG_6985IMG_6983IMG_7002
IMG_7059IMG_7025IMG_7044While in Zandaam we also shared the pleasure of exploring Hollands quaint history and beauty in it’s gardens, waterways, windmills and windy days! We also celebrated Barbara’s birthday with brunch in Hein and Elise’s beautiful backyard garden.

See what great Love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children in the family of God! – 1 John 3:1

2. The Netherlands / Riiland

In the following days we drove from Zaandam to Riiland, Holland- packed in our tiny car with matching bags as if we are a traveling soccer team. =)IMG_7058IMG_7055We arrived and were welcomed by The Lighthouse family to share and do life with their team. It was a special weekend of connection, learning, and worship together.

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. All who have this hope in Him purify themselves, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:2IMG_7083IMG_7065IMG_7063One of my favorite memories was running with Barbara through the wheat fields to the top of the dam. It’s a mystery to see the ground beneath my feet that is, in fact, below sea level!…and I remain confused.

The misty skies and mysterious sea level remind me of what it means to run in this life by faith alone.IMG_7071Hope in His Love. The world does not know us..and we ourselves don’t know what we will yet be…but we know that we will be like Him – who is Love- so we hope for that!  – 1 John 3:3

And this hope will not disappoint us, because God’s Love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been freely given to us. – Romans 5:5

3. Germany / Starbach / Dresden

Meeting Barbara’s family was refreshing, and a bit like living in a story book. We learned about the grain business from her dad, while enjoying the tastiness of her mom’s delicious cooking and being spoiled by their delightful hospitality. IMG_7169IMG_7170IMG_7098IMG_7111IMG_7161IMG_7276IMG_7356One afternoon, we all jumped in the back of her dad’s 1958 truck for a rainy, and bumpy drive over hills of green farm land, to her dad’s favorite lookout spot.

Here, he prays for their community, for the local famers, for the government, and for his country. It was a privilege to be there agreeing with that prayer.

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. – Hebrews 6:10,11IMG_7357IMG_7254IMG_7257IMG_7355IMG_7275IMG_7273Meeting this family, I am reminded of Gods delight in the details, in excellence in design, in hard work, in pioneering and praying through intense and even politically hard years, yet raising beautiful children with shining souls and bright futures.

Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of HIMSELF very clear to the heirs of what was promised, He confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of this hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. – Hebrews 6:17-18

4. Czech Republic / Prague

Our first train in Prague I felt a surprising contrast between delight and despair. I was meant to be taking in the romantic beauty of the city, yet there was a stirring in my heart for the Czech people to be free from a heaviness still stifling personality and true joy.

I was encouraged by the simple curiosity of a child still untainted by a culture that was created in the era that went before her.IMG_7302IMG_7325When I went on a walk with our host Lily, she explained that during Communist control, even previous apartment buildings were designed in a way that prevented people from living in community.

I thought about the impact that a design like this can have on people. Over time, isolation and lack of community slowly breaks humanity down into lifeless beings with no freedom to share and celebrate and have joy-filled connections. Without connection we lose motivation and hope. We need each other. IMG_7360IMG_7402IMG_7408God was so good to allow us to stay with Lily- she invited us to her dad’s birthday party where we experienced a family full of love and affection for each other.

At their church we were able to share our story of full-time missions and encourage their community to be reminded of God’s passion for his Body across the globe. The people were really touched and received prayer before leaving to carry the gospel to Estonia.

And so….after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. He received his inheritance…JESUS. The only firm and secure hope for all his kingdom descendants- to enter Gods presence and receive eternal salvation. – Hebrews 6:15IMG_7335IMG_7721IMG_7417IMG_7432IMG_7434So let hope rise. And darkness tremble in your holy light, that every eye will see JESUS– Our God! Great and mighty to be praised!

God of all days, glorious in all of your ways- Your majesty, and wonder and grace are in the light of your Name! Let hope rise.

6. Poland / Swidnica

In Poland we met with a young mother named Paulina. She welcomed us into her home, fed us at her table, and shared with us all that God is doing in her small town of Swidnica. We were amazed at this connection we could not have planned ourselves. Paulina was full of expectation with our arrival, and we had barely been in Poland a few hours.IMG_7631IMG_7608IMG_7609IMG_7612IMG_7622IMG_7623Later that evening we went with Paulina and her family to the ‘Resting Place’ – basically a central space where they meet weekly to seek God, to pray and worship in their small community.

We were amazed at their hunger. They don’t have much in the eyes of the world- but a genuine, simple and bold way of worshipping the King of Kings! They looked at us with eyes full of expectancy and love, waiting to hear a word from the Lord. They came one by one, full of faith, ready in prayer, and in a moment were touched by His Spirit. Their hearts soft and ready to receive Him.IMG_7634We have this hope. JESUS. As an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:26,33

5. Germany / Berlin

Driving into the city I immediately felt a next level German efficiency and rigor! We toured Berlin with our friend Marvin, who took us by U-Bahn through the city center, to the Berlin Memorial, as well as the Holocaust Memorial. IMG_7563IMG_7531IMG_7537IMG_7897IMG_7550IMG_7558IMG_7904IMG_7568In the midst of the tour we were feeling strung-out and strange with the intensity of the city. We decided to re-connect with each other at the house of prayer at Marvin’s church.

There we soaked in the moment and gathered together to pray for Berlin and for revival in Germany. I was completely overwhelmed by God’s Spirit and could only feel His heart for the people- for the pain of the past- for the oppression caused by communism and control. I felt the intense heaviness of the burden and God’s heart just pouring out His love for His people, that they would reach out and find Him as He truly is. That they would allow His love and grace to banish every darkness and find hope arising there.

As we left the house of prayer to make the walking journey back to our hostel, I couldn’t shake what the Spirit was doing. I wept uncontrollably.IMG_7573IMG_7582We descended the stairs to the underground subway where young people were gathering and partying, it was all I could do to not start bursting out the name of Jesus! For in His mercy to save them from their aimless goals and dead end pursuits…from their obvious cries for attention, seeking worth and beauty and lusting for food that will numb but not satisfy.

And I wept. My spirit groaned deep within me.

For the very dream of God is for all to come to Him; full of hope and expectation. He IS who He says He is! He is the best friend who knows you. He says you’re never alone because you are His! Because He died for you! He satisfies every distant dream and longing, with HIMSELF. He IS the very food we crave. He IS the bread of life. He IS the Father to the fatherless. IMG_7600IMG_7601IMG_7604We get it all wrong. We think hope is having expectation that our worldly circumstances will change, and if and when they do, then it’s all worth it. No. Hope in God! HE alone is worth it. This life is temporary! Hope in what the world offers and you’ll end up with depression, anxiety, fear, hunger for power and control, temporary highs, restlessness, loneliness, temporary relationships and torn families.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning. Oh my soul, put your hope in the Lord, for with Jehovah is unfailing Love and with Him is full restoration. – Psalm 130:5-7

7. The Netherlands / Amsterdam

Our second time back in the Netherlands offered one cloudy day to explore the city. It was rainy in Amsterdam, but the city provoked my curiosity.

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you restless within me? Hope you in God, for I shall yet praise Him, who IS the health of my countenance, my God, my Creator, the Maker of the heavens and the earth.- Psalm 42:5 IMG_7701IMG_7694IMG_7685Hoping for different, ideal, or secure circumstances is a temporary satisfaction and a weak foothold. Hope in God is secure.

Hope in His Love- His never changing nature is a solid foundation for living this life as it is, not as we wish it to be.

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Give up your vain pursuit of self, give hope to the poor in spirit. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.” – Luke 12:32-33 IMG_7703IMG_7705IMG_7678For all goodness, and every perfect gift is from above; it simply comes from the Father of Lights -the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens- in whom there is no variation…no rising or setting or shadow cast by His turning like the moon in an eclipse. For He is perfect and never changes! – James 1:17

When nations choose JESUS alone- Hope in him will bring justice where there is injustice, peace where there is anxiety, unity where there is division. We need you, God of Love. God of Mercy. Show us how to love. Make us more like Jesus.

For every tribe and people and nation…

May the God of peace- who brought up Jesus from the dead, giving us an eternal covenant with His blood- May He equip you with hope and all that you need for doing His will.
May he produce His Love in you, through the power of Jesus, and every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory going to Him forever and ever. – Hebrews 13:20-21

It is Him, I hope to give you. Go and change the world!