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  • Writer's pictureDean Moyer

My Work in Sacred Space (Part 5)

Social (sacred) justice, what is it? Tim Mackie at the BIbleProject helps us situate this word in a cultural and biblical context. 

 “According to the Biblical justice that God sets forth, all humans are equal, all humans are created in His image, and all humans deserve to be treated with fairness and restorative justice. This means a selfless way of life in which people do everything they can to ensure that others are treated well, and injustices are fixed.” Tim Mackie

  It is a “selfless way of living, doing everything they can to ensure others are treated well.” Sacred justice confronts the upside-down nature of our broken world where “self” is the center.  The Kingdom of God, through Jesus Christ, has come to put everything right, restoring “us” to the center.  Justice gives us a glimpse of what God’s Kingdom should be and will be as He establishes His Kingdom on Earth. Sacred justice is our participation with the Spirit of God to pursue the dignity and well-being of others – first. This is the kind of kingdom living Jesus was talking about in Matthew 25

‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:40)

 Let’s go back to these gates we’ve been talking about. You will remember the elders at the gates from part 4. In addition to adjudicating the matters brought before them to establish shalom, they also served as enforcers of sacred biblical justice – to make sure everyone was treated fairly – justly. In Neh 5:7 ff., we are told Nehemiah held a great assembly – a town meeting to confront the leaders (the elders) who were not doing their job. On behalf of God, their job was to restore justice to the poor, widows, and orphan. They were to offer strangers/aliens, those who came in from outside a place of rest. In this way, the gates, where people worked were places of peace (shalom) and welcome, hospitality and grace. 

The rich and fulfilling dynamics of this are lost on us with a western worldview. Why? Because , as I mentioned, we are a “me” culture, not a “we” culture. Most of us don’t function with “we” in mind.  “Me” is the fruit of a broken and upside-down world. From the “me” vantage point, social (sacred) justice can be at a distance, project-oriented – charity. I give to the poor. I volunteer at… I protest for the less fortunate. Are these activities wrong? Who’s to say? I’m suggesting there is a strong possibility these may not be motivated by “we” or “us” but rather “me.” Consider this. Jesus came to restore His Kingdom and make all things right. And part of what is made right (turned right side up) is our interconnectedness with others. We are most in alignment when we know and live out the reality “I” have been restored to “us.” We were on the outside, alone, looking in. God’s restorative justice welcomes us in to be cared for, loved, and to serve others along-side of others.  This is a radical, right side up way of living and working.

God invites us to participate in the same kind of “us” living – to be people of His Kingdom in our world – at our city gate. God did not redeem us so that we could simply be saved, stay at home, or in His Temple and go to heaven. In Matthew 28 Jesus says to his disciples, “Go, therefore…make disciples.” Invite them in. Show hospitality and generosity. It was at the gates and beyond that God’s life of mercy and compassion and grace were put on display as people went about their business. In theological terms, we are to live incarnationally. If we are to be like God, who came and lived among us, the gates represent where we live God’s life among others for the sake of others.

The delight of biblical justice is not to make everyone equal; it is far more glorious than that. Instead, sacred justice is an incarnational way of living as “us.” Our doing, our work is not divorced from this but the very means by which we can make it happen. 

“He has told you, O man, what is good;

and what does the Lord require of you

 but to do justice, and to love kindness, 

   and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

 In what ways is God calling us to “us” living? What does it look like to experience extraordinary success in your work for the sake of others?

 A Prayer:

Empower us Holy Spirit 

      to be on mission with you in our world;

      to be of good courage;

      to hold fast that which is good;

      to render to no one evil for evil;

      to strengthen the fainthearted; support the weak;

      to help the afflicted; honor everyone;

      to love and work for the sake of others

      to the glory of the Lord,

 Together, we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit as the people of God

on Mission for the Glory of Jesus.


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