Have you ever stopped to pick up trash on the ground that you didn’t put there? Not long ago I was walking down a fairly busy street with cars zipping by and as I walked by a bus stop, I noticed a piece of paper lying in the grass nearby. My first reaction was to ignore it, after all, I didn’t put there so it wasn’t my problem. I walked on past the trash.
I didn’t get much further down the sidewalk before I changed my mind about the trash and went back to pick it up. What excuse did I possibly have when there was a trashcan conveniently located at the bus stop nearby making it easy to discard properly?
Picking up the trash and putting in the trashcan where it belonged was really no big whoop. I was however, surprised by how difficult it was for me to just pick it up to begin with. Why had I hesitated? What was I afraid of? Sheepishly I admit I feared mostly what people I didn’t even know zooming by would think of me if they saw. How often does fear lock your kneecaps and paralyze you from action in life? Have you ever hesitated to help someone in need out of fear?
Ken Wytsma, in his book, Pursuing Justice, says that justice is what ought to be. It’s what life was like before sin entered the world back in the Garden of Eden. Life in the garden was created in perfect order by God and all things worked together as they ought to. It was just. Justice is such a vital part of Gods character. Wytsma points out there are more than two thousand verses in the Bible directly related to justice. He goes on to say, “Justice is the hallmark of God, a distinctive and pure feature of His character that defines Him and His will for the world.”
King David writes, “Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.” In other words, justice is a big part of who God is. Psalm 45:6.
Gary Haugen, the founder of International Justice Missions, says that’s God’s plan for justice in the world is you and me. Yes you read that correctly. It’s us! And God does not have a backup plan. We are his plan for restoring and redeeming the world back to way he intended when all things were just and right. You can listen to a short video here of Haugen talking more on this.
I realize picking up trash on the ground is a teeny tiny example of the idea that we are God’s plan for justice in the world but what I like about it is it’s something we can all grasp. Trash should be thrown out in a trashcan. It should never be thrown on the ground. We all get that.
The same can be said about a number of hardships people face today. God never intended for children to be orphaned. He never intended for parents to bury their children. God never intended for children to be enslaved, trafficked or abused in any manner. And God never intended for his perfect and beautiful creation to be littered.
As unbelievable as it may sound at times, God’s plan to restore order the way he did intend is through us, his followers. In John 13:35 Jesus tells his followers, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
People will know that God is good and loving when his people do good deeds and love others.
So whether you pick up a piece of trash that shouldn’t be there or you provide school supplies to a kid in need as a new school year begins, be encouraged because you are carrying out God’s plan for justice in the world.
“Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, that you may live and possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 16:20
*Originally posted on http://www.conversantlife.com dated Aug. 27, 2013