September 17, 2012

A Passion for Justice

Isaiah 58:3-12

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?”
—Isaiah 58:6


History is littered with attempts to bring about justice, to find “systems so perfect that no one will need to be good,” as T. S. Eliot once said. In the past century, revolutions in the name of perfect, just societies have massacred innocent people by the millions, bringing about unprecedented misery and massive injustices of their own. Cries for justice are sometimes so politicized by the ideology of class warfare that the jargon of justice itself is a turn-off.

If the Lord himself were not passionate about justice, we would almost rather despair of even trying, live in isolation, and let the rest of the world go by.

Believers whom God has called into the realm of politics have an opportunity to “loose the chains of injustice” widely. And it is important that we pray that God will give them wisdom to tear out deep-rooted injustice.

For those in other callings, justice is sometimes simpler, like giving a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name. Harder than that, though, is breaking out of our own self-centeredness and listening to the voice of compassion within, “when [we]see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from [our] own flesh and blood.” Bob Dylan sings about the homeless, “What good am I … if I just turn away when I see how you’re dressed?”

We look up to you, Lord Jesus, the just Judge of all. Search our hearts, that we may be a part of the solution, not the root of the problem. Amen.

About the author — George Young

George Young, a native New Yorker, worked as a taxi driver in New York City before studying to become a pastor. Then he, his wife Ruth, and their children were missionaries for many years in northeastern Japan. They worked with ministers and believers from the Reformed Church in Japan to spread the good news of salvation in Christ and ­establish new churches. Now George and Ruth are retired and live in the northeastern United States, nearer to their children and grandchildren.

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