Justice or “just-us”?

A friend recently challenged me to articulate what the most important issues to me are this election, and to explain why, as a Christian, I feel those issues are important.  Whew!  I confess to usually being somewhat politically lazy (not feeling like my vote makes any difference…not always doing the actions for responsible citizenship), but after watching friends from Burma who have attained citizenship in the US  demonstrate anew to me the PRIVILEGE I have of being a citizen and being able to have a voice and a vote, I repent.  

Decisions for me usually revolve around to trying to find the principle to base the action on.  The belief and principle that most impacts my coming vote is the firm belief that God calls us to seek justice, and that justice is not spelled “just-us.”  I believe I/we need to interact with the world, our society, our churches, our communities, and our families following the principles spoken of in Micah 6:8, “… What does the Lord require of you?  To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God,” and by Jesus in Matthew 7:12, “Always treat others as you would like them to treat you.”

I believe God is prolife.  Consistently pro-life…“pro everyone’s life,” not only the lives of the unborn (and their parents), and not only those who are demographically, economically, racially, culturally, or religiously most similar to us.  Putting my faith into practice might mean being more actively engaged trying to make sure human rights such as life, liberty, physical security, education, access to affordable medical care, food security, clean water, and affordable shelter become available to everyone.  I am convicted this is not optional.  

Equal access to education, jobs with a living wage, childcare and after school programs, are important to me.  Jesus said the gospel was supposed to be “good news for the poor.”  How do the economic policies we support affect those on the bottom of the economic ladder, both in the US and to those affected by our trade policies in other countries?  How do these policies affect children and families?

I agree with those who say we need to protect and strengthen marriages.  But maybe if we look first at our own lives and the lives of those we love, and then do what we can to strengthen, encourage, love and serve each other, maybe this will do more to protect and stabilize families than scapegoating other people and throwing stones at them ever could?  

I value religious freedom.  Therefore, I need to be respectful to those who practice other faiths, or no faith.  If I want tolerance and respect, I may have to give it.  

We need national policy that supports the human rights standards of international law and strongly opposes torture and inhumane treatment of anyone.  Sorry, can’t say  that one gentler.  Torture is wrong!  

I believe our power as a nation should be used in advocating for justice and respect for human rights in places like Darfur, Burma, and Palestine (and others) and exposing and bringing to justice those who commit ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity.  Matthew 5:9 says “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God,”  but can peace and democracy really be effectively promoted by starting a war that leads to more people dying and being in poverty, and will leave their country (and ours) paying the price for years to come? 

Mother Theresa said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”  So, the action part….guess I need to commit to being prayerfully, actively engaged in the system, not taking my liberty for granted and living as though I really really believe that the justice God is concerned about is not for “just-us”.    

 

 

 

Justice or righteousness?

It amazes me how important the choice of one word can be, either in politics, or in an argument, or even theologically.  Like a lot of American Christians, I have several Bibles, and don’t read any of them as much as I should.  (Working on that).  I was raised with the King James version (that definitely dates me!).  Learned verses like Matthew 6:33 “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you, ” along with other Christians of my generation.  It’s a famous verse and a nice song. 

But that version doesn’t impact me nearly as much as the same verse taken from The New English Bible, which says: “Set your mind on God’s kingdom and his justice before everything else, and all the rest will come to you as well.” 

Hate quibbling about words….but this one makes me think.  Maybe ’cause I was raised on King James, (and have a thick head and hard heart at times), words can bounce off of me pretty well-lack of impact due to familiarity?  Reading in a different translation sometimes gets my attention better (or hearing the words and principles in a song!).  Righteousness seems like it’s about behaving well, or just about God instead of me.  Seeking justice pulls at me as a call to action, and highlights how ineffective some of my inaction/attempted action is at times….it calls me to more.

(The New English Bible also uses justice, just or judgment in a lot of the other verses where King James uses righteousness….another reminder to me that God cares about justice and so  should I).

I love it/hate it, when someting starts to get through to me.  Usually calls me to humility and change…..