Justice is more than just following laws; it involves ensuring that everyone receives their rights and living fairly and equitably. Recognizing the significance of human creation and the image of God in each person is crucial for racial reconciliation and addressing the world's hunger for justice.
When we think of justice, many of us consider it in the context of following laws and facing consequences for breaking them. We often leave the work of justice to the government, law enforcement, or those in authority, feeling unqualified, uncomfortable, or indifferent.
However, justice is much more profound and beautiful than mere legal systems. Justice is a concept originating from God Himself. He is just, and He delights in justice (see Isaiah 61:8).
The Hebrew word for justice is "mishpat," appearing over two hundred times in the Hebrew Old Testament. It means not only punishing or acquitting individuals based on the merits of their cases but also ensuring that everyone receives their rights. Only a small portion of the biblical references to justice involve punishment; the majority focus on proactive protection.
Interestingly, justice is often paired with righteousness in the Bible, indicating their close relationship. Psalm 89:14 states, "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne" (ESV). Righteousness involves living fairly, generously, and equitably in all relationships within family and society. Justice gives people their rights, while righteousness involves living rightly among people.
So, what does this mean for us in a world starving for justice, particularly racial reconciliation?
We must start by recognizing the profound significance of human creation. Genesis 1:27 tells us, "God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them" (NIV). This means we reflect the divine nature of God Himself, imbued with dignity, value, and worth. Our significance as human beings is stamped in our souls. We are called to honor this in ourselves and others.
Moreover, being made in God's image spurs us to love. As God Himself is love (see 1 John 4:8), we, too, are called to reflect His love to everyone around us. This involves recognizing and celebrating the image of God in one another, loving each other as God's beloved creations.
However, the lies of the enemy often lead us to doubt our significance as image-bearers. Just as the serpent tempted the first couple to deny their God-given dignity, we, too, may fail to recognize the image of God in ourselves and others, resulting in shame, division, and loss of dignity.
To address this, we must repent of our failure to acknowledge and love the imago Dei in ourselves and others. True justice begins with shifting our hearts to see the valuable, beloved, and beautiful image of God in every soul, regardless of color.
(Adapted from "Starved: Why We Need a Spiritual Diet Change to Move Us from Tired, Anxious, and Overwhelmed to Fulfilled, Whole, and Free" by Amy Seiffert. Copyright © 2023. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.)