What does the Bible say about justice?

The Bible is full of references to justice, but often a label we stick on left-leaning churches is that they follow a social justice Jesus. We call them social justice warriors, and not as a compliment. What if I were to tell you that all Christians, from far leaning right all the way to the extreme leaning left, conservatives, liberals and all in-betweeners, are called to pursue justice?

When we take on the label of Jesus-follower we are saying that we pursue what God pursues. And God pursues justice. It is a quality that should unite us, not divide us. 

The prophet Isaiah was never one to pull punches. He speaks clearly in his first chapter that we are to quit going through the motions, going to meeting after meeting to prove our spiritual superiority. Instead, he admonishes us to stop tearing people apart but to “learn to do good. Work for justice. Help the down-and-out. Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless” (Isaiah 1:17 MSG).

Jesus took Isaiah’s words and shared them again in His own unique style. In Luke 11, the Pharisees are offended that Jesus did not wash his hands before dinner. Seriously, though, who isn’t? One has to wonder if Jesus was goading them, waiting for the opportunity to let them know how shiny their outside religious trappings were while their insides rotted away. He did not hold back in his response. In verse 43 (MSG), we hear him saying, “You’re hopeless, you Pharisees! Frauds! You love sitting at the head table at church dinners, love preening yourselves in the radiance of public flattery.” To which naturally they reply, that’s insulting. So Jesus continues: “Yes, and I can be even more explicit. You’re hopeless, you religion scholars! You load people down with rules and regulations, nearly breaking their backs, but never lift even a finger to help” (Luke 11:46 MSG).

Pursuing justice means that we see people as God sees them, made in the image of God and loved fully by Him. When we see the vulnerable, the oppressed, the hungry and the hurting, the marginalized, the captives and the outcasts, we are called to act. You and I must step outside of our comfort zone to pursue justice for those whom Christ loves. 

When the church gets involved in the work of social justice, it is modeling the same self-sacrificial love modeled by Jesus and practiced by the early church. 

To study this topic further, visit "What Does the Bible Say About Social Justice?" by John D. Barry and browse this list of "100 Bible Verses About Justice."

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