When Justice Is under Attack, God Will Always Side with the Marginalized.
The only people standing against justice are those who profit off of injustice, says one pastor.
We are living in a cultural moment where justice is constantly vilified, especially by Christians.
A few years ago, I would have said, “This makes no sense! Why would anyone be against justice?” But I’ve come to understand this is all very purposeful.
Turn on Christian TV, look at Christian social media, or listen to prominent pastors and it won’t be long before you hear justice being decried. People use terms like “social justice warrior” and “woke” pejoratively to shame people into not pursuing justice. As historian and author Dr. Jemar Tisby says:
“Many white Christians have become de facto defenders of an unjust status quo by maintaining that Christians should not get involved in matters of public justice.”
After spending the last few years learning from Christians of color (like my friend, Jemar) who have been leading justice movements for decades, I started to see just how true this is.
If someone receives money, power, or political gain from injustice, then demonizing justice is the most effective way to ensure the perpetuation of those benefits.
That’s why it’s such a red flag when people say it’s “divisive” to talk about racism, sexism, nationalism, or any other form of injustice. Because justice is only divisive to someone benefitting from injustice.
Or to put it more bluntly: The only people standing against justice are the ones who profit off of injustice.
But there is another side to this coin as well. We can’t slap Jesus’ name on any old revolution and claim that it represents God’s justice. This has happened throughout human history and the results have been devastating. People have often weaponized justice and co-opted the name of Christ for the purpose of power and oppression.
In both scenarios, the goal is power for the sake of selfish gain; either by demonizing justice to maintain it and weaponizing justice to gain it.
The goal of God’s justice is always full restoration for everyone. Martin Luther King Jr. understood this. That’s why he talked so much about making this “world house” in which we dwell a place of love, goodness, abundance, and equality—not just for some people, but for all people.
Dr. King famously called this idea The Beloved Community and said that it was the end goal of all justice work. Based on the biblical concept of shalom, The Beloved Community is a place where there is abundant goodness in all things and between all things.
For Dr. King and so many others who came before him and continue his work today, the goal has never been power for the sake of power or even justice for the sake of justice. The goal has always been The Beloved Community, where God and all of humanity co-exist in love.
In a 1966 article for Christian Century Magazine, Dr. King wrote:
“I do not think of political power as an end. Neither do I think of economic power as an end. They are ingredients in the objective that we seek in life. And I think that end of that objective is a truly brotherly society, the creation of the Beloved Community.”
God desires for all people to experience freedom and fullness of life, and it is for that very reason that God does not turn a blind eye to injustice of any kind. He does not stand in the uncontroversial middle.
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When a line is drawn, God is on the side of the marginalized. He stands in solidarity with the oppressed and he invites all of us, oppressors included, to join Him there.
But God will not be mocked. He will not stand idly by as His name is attached to violent revolutions in which justice is weaponized for the sake of oppressive power.
These are not political statements. They are biblical truths, attested to by Scripture passages from Genesis to Revelation.
They are also not incongruent with each other. Justice is not something to be demonized or weaponized — it is the means by which God brings restoration and freedom to all people.
Zach W. Lambert is the Lead Pastor and founder of Restore Austin, a church in urban Austin, Texas. He holds a Masters of Theology and serves on the boards of Restore Houston, Louder than Silence (a non-profit for survivors of sexual violence), and the Austin Church Planting Network.