Wednesday, June 17, 2020

justice and righeousness

In the kingdom of God, justice and righteousness are vitally and intimately connected.  Just look at the Scriptures, you hardly ever see one without the other. Justice (mishpat), at its core, means that all of the principles and standards of the covenant are applied equally and fairly to everyone.  And righteousness (tsedaqah) has to do with right standing and right relationship, first with God and then with one another.  Righteousness means that everyone and everything are living as they were intended to.  Thus, you can’t be righteous without being just, and you can’t be just without being righteous.

And when you put the two together, you get peace (shalom).  And by peace, I do not mean merely a calm and serene feeling inside, but I mean wholeness. Shalom is always about experiencing the creation intent of God.  Shalom is about being exactly who and what we were meant to be.  It is about reversing the effects of the fall whenever and wherever possible and making space for God to usher in the kingdom once again.  For only when we experience true shalom can we ever have any real hope of finding the rest our souls most deeply long for.

The tricky part is that only God can bring about true shalom, but we are all responsible to live justly and act rightly—by his power and his grace.  It is how we seek the peace of the city. (Jer. 29:7) In order to seek shalom for all, we must consider what it means for us as individuals to live in such a way that we do justice and love mercy and walk humbly with our God. (Micah 6:8) We can’t just sit idly by and hope that it will somehow magically come about.  It will take a lot of effort on our part.  It will take a lot of prayer and reflection and confession and conversation and repentance and reconciliation.  It will involve each of us considering what God would have us to do in order to make his shalom a possibility for all.

What does that look like for you?  How will you take the first, or the next, step?  How will you live in such a way, this day, that you are an agent of God’s shalom in the world?  After all, “Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others.  It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced.  You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.” (James 3:17-18, The Message)

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