WHERE IS THE GOD OF JUSTICE?
by Michael Powell
Diagnosing injustice takes much less effort than fighting it. When we only point, many will point with us. When we merely say, "That's a shame," many will agree. Injustices locally and globally are easily acknowledged. Still, they are often ignored leaving us with an important theological question, "Where is the God of Justice?"
Sometimes we ask this question in self-pity, wondering why the world has not yet begun to revolve around us. This was the case for a group of Jews who lived around 350 B.C. Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, records their question (Malachi 2:17).
These Jews are given a sarcastic response. "Where is the God of justice? I am headed your way, but when I arrive it will not be good for you because you will not be able to stand." This sharp rebuke comes to those who believe they deserve justice rather than seeing their obligation to spread justice to others.
Demanding justice is a fearful thing because sometimes it is we who need punishment in order for justice to be served. Still the fact remains, injustices are pandemic and God is good. Are we only to hope for a future leveling from God, that one day all will be set right?
One great sweep of future justice is surely not our only hope. Today, in the present, we must be able to find the God of justice somewhere. But where? Consider three men who stood for justice. Their stories will illustrate well the answer to "Where is the God of justice?"
Consider first John the Baptizer. John was the last prophet whose mission was to preach and baptize as a way of preparing the way for Christ's arrival. John publicly opposed the most powerful political figure of the day, Herod. He rebuked him for stealing another man's wife. Why would the Baptizer dabble in politics? Couldn't he have continued preaching and baptizing if he conveniently ignored Herod's sin?
Also reflect upon the life and ministry of Martin Luther King, Jr. King stood for justice when he joined the bus boycott that Rosa Parks unknowingly sparked. A pastor of a church, he certainly had other tasks to complete. His actions followed his own advice, "Do not think to yourself, 'What will happen to me if I help this person?' Instead ask, 'What will happen to this person if I do not help?'"
Jesus Christ also aimed to spread justice. Not content to lead his apostles in a bubble of comfort, he stood against the crime of selling sacrifices in the temple courts. The courts were to be a safe place for the poor and foreigner, but the Jews had turned their sanctuary into a flea market.
These three men all had other jobs, but each refused to use his job as excuses for not standing against the injustices he witnessed. And they all ended up dying for their stands. Most compelling, each knew the answer to the question, "Where is the God of justice?"
What is the answer? The God justice resides in his people. When we ask, "God, why are You not doing something to stop this or that injustice?" He may respond, "I could ask you the same question." God is within us, we carry the God of justice within our heart. If it is justice we want, we have only to release him, even if it costs us our lives.
Michael Powell is a freelance writer and church planter in Texas.