But what about...injustice?
“It’s not fair!” was a regular cry in my house growing up with two other sisters… “It’s not fair that she gets to go and I don’t!”, “It’s not fair that I’ve done the dishes two days in a row!”, “It’s not fair that I’m getting the blame!” Maybe you can relate and maybe you’ve spoken these words in the past. I believe that from a very young age we have an inbuilt instinct of what is fair, and therefore a desire for justice. We mightn’t use the words ‘just’ and ‘unjust’ but from as young as three or four we are aware that it is ‘not fair’ for another sibling to get sweets and not us; in primary school we complain that it is ‘not fair’ for our class to have more homework than another; and then as we get a little older we begin to notice more serious examples of injustice in the world around us such as racism, poverty and human trafficking.
But why is there injustice in the world?
The short answer is that we live in a broken and sinful world, and there are over 7 billion broken and sinful people living in it: Romans 3:23 says ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’. Colossians 3:5-6 highlights that a lot of our sin is rooted in selfishness and idolatry (which is when we put anything in our lives above God). So, unfortunately, most of the injustices we see in the world around us are created by human sin and selfishness. But it’s not all bad news! Jesus came to earth to die in our place so that He could be a substitute for the sins of those who believe and repent (2 Corinthians 5:21). Therefore, as Christians we have been made righteous before God. That is great news but it also bears a responsibility! If we are followers of Christ we are called to be a light in the darkness of an unjust world. Ephesians 5:8 says “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light”.
So what should we do, as Christians, when we see injustice around us?
I believe that God is a God of justice. Psalm 89:14 tells us that “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of [His] throne;” and in Micah 6:8 we are told that God requires us “…to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly…” So if we are striving to be more like Christ each day, I believe we need to be speaking out against injustice. Isaiah 1:17 says this “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause” and Proverbs 31:8 commands: “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute.” So I want to challenge you: are you speaking out against the injustice that you witness in your school, in your community and in the wider world?
And what should we not be doing?
The Bible asks us to speak out against injustice, but that does not give us the right to be rude or angry or hateful. This is a trap we could easily fall into if we are passionate about a particular type of social justice or if we come up against opposition from different viewpoints. Proverbs 15:1 says “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” and Paul’s warning to the church in Ephesus was clear, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29). So when we speak out against injustice and speak up for those who are oppressed, we must be careful to choose our words wisely, making sure that they glorify God rather than win an argument!