A couple of months ago, the drinking water purifier in our house broke down. So, I googled the water purifier company’s customer care number, spoke to them and set up an appointment for one of its service agents to fix our machine. Shortly after that, he was at our home fixing the machine. He replaced a couple of parts and sprung a bill on us that was half the cost of a new machine. My protest over the inflated charges was drowned out by his firm assurances that the ‘genuine’ replacement parts he had installed were very expensive and came with a warranty. Slightly reassured, I paid up.
Unfortunately, I was angrily redialing the company’s customer care number the following week when the purifier broke down again. I rattled off the reference numbers on the previous bill insisting that they resolve the problem at their cost. I was aghast to be told that their system had no records of any such previous repair or of them even having sent an agent to my address. A little further internet research confirmed my worst fears; I had called a fake call centre that was not the real representatives of the water purifier company. It was all an elaborate scam that I had neatly walked into.
To say that I was upset by the incident would be an understatement. My blood boiled and I desperately wanted to fire the “agent” who had vanished after so beautifully scamming us.
While the injustice of what had been done got me very upset, the world we live in soon reminded me that the injustice I had suffered was the very lowest in degree. No matter where we live, we are never far from much graver acts of injustice. The reign of terror by power-hungry despots who reduce people to become refugees; the trafficking of vulnerable men, women and children; bribery and extortion in corrupt government systems; those arbitrarily stripped of their liberty and dignity on the basis of class, caste, colour, creed, religion or financial status. No matter who we are, injustice in some form will come at us.
Feeling anger at injustice that has ravaged another person is a great thing. So is being overwhelmed by a sense of deep compassion for someone who is suffering. Unfortunately, these responses in themselves can be short-lived and run out of steam quickly. Regular life interferes and our attention and our hearts move on to other things. Over-time, we might remember it fleetingly or be bothered by it again at the next time our lives intersect with a similar situation.
But godly justice is not just an emotional knee-jerk reaction. It is a posture of our heart that moves us into action even when the feelings of righteous rage or compassion have ebbed away. Godly justice is a lifestyle fuelled by an inner experience of God’s love. It means stepping in when others have walked out of the life of someone suffering injustice.
Stepping in doesn’t mean we are always reciprocated with kindness and love by those we attempt to help. For people we reach out to can be ungrateful, unappreciative and undeserving. Those we desire to help might rebuff our aid or even go right back to their miserable condition. How then do we keep on offering to step in to help?
Jonathan Edwards, an 18th century preacher and theologian said,
“Christ loved us, and was kind to us, and was willing to relieve us, though we were very hateful persons, of an evil disposition, not deserving of any good. So we should be willing to be kind to those who are . . . very undeserving.”
Godly justice points us to that time when Jesus stepped into our helpless lives and set us free from our chains of sin. It points us to a time when Christ’s response to us went far beyond emotion. Romans 5:8 says, "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." His ‘display of love’ involved him ‘dying’ to save us from a death we deserve. The new life given to us was an act of his will. Its cost was extravagant. Given to us who are neither deserving nor have the remotest ability to repay.
When our hearts begin to savour this lavish love of God, we are set free to really see others suffering injustice -- a spiritual seeing that awakens our response towards injustice from mere emotion to an instinctive act of the will. One that births an ever-growing lifestyle of justice.
So, what might a lifestyle of justice look like? It can involve numerous things, big and small. Here are some of those:
There is no formula written in stone for leading a lifestyle of justice. It simply flows out of knowing a God who doesn’t just ‘do justice’ but is ‘just’ himself. Justice is found in who God is. A God who delights in being known as the God of the orphans, the poor, the widow and the forgotten. A God who suffered the greatest injustice that we may drink of the greatest freedom ever known.
Photo by Bryan Minear on Unsplash
You speak the truth, Ceenu, regarding justice and the God who loves and died for the unjust! You and your husband also LIVE a life of justice. So inspiring! We want to follow in your steps as you follow Christ. He drew near to the outcasts, touched the lepers, healed the sick, and showed us the way of love and making things right in the world. Lord, use us to be your instruments of peace and justice, bringing your will to earth as it is in heaven where all is settled and right. Thank you, Ceenu, for this important piece that will make us all think—and hopefully will spur us into action!