When I first became aware of the sobering statistics of modern day slavery I wondered how I had been in the dark for so long, not knowing there were 27 million+ people bound in slavery around the world. I was 28 the first time I learned that slavery still existed in the world – in the world I lived in, in my country, in my state, in my county, and even in my city.
How had I missed this?
By that age, I had traveled a handful of times internationally, including a 6-week long stay in Moldova – a European hub for trafficking victims – and yet I did not know about this ugly injustice. At 28, I had a seminary degree in world missions and yet I was unaware such acts of violence and brutality upon people, could and did happen every day to millions around the world.
Was I living in a barn in the middle of Iowa? No I was not thank goodness, but I sure felt like it as I slowly began to recognize a much different world than the one I had been living in.
Have you felt the same? Do you remember when you first learned of an injustice that made your blood boil? What did you do about it?
I knew I had to do something once I knew about the realities of treating people like cattle at the auction. I did my research, I googled up a storm, linked up with top organizations combatting slavery like International Justice Mission and learned all I could. And learn I did.
As a Christian, I began a hot pursuit of what God had to say about injustices in the Bible. I desperately wanted to know what I was to do knowing slavery was active all around me.
Did you know there are over 130 verses on justice in the Bible? That doesn’t include the dozens of mentions of righteousness (more on this later but by righteousness, I’m talking about it’s Greek root – a synonym of justice – not simply having to do with morality as the English language has reduced it to).
At the very core of God’s heart, is justice. It’s part of His DNA. Justice is the quality of being just or fair. It’s the principle of moral rightness. Therefore, injustice is a perversion of God’s justice.
Check out what Gary Haugen says about injustice in his book Just Courage.
“The sin of injustice is defined in the Bible as the abuse of power by taking from others the good things that God intended for them, namely, their life, liberty, dignity, or the fruits of their labor. In other words, when a stronger person abuses his or her power by taking from a weaker person what God alone has given the weaker person – God judges this as sin. And what has God alone given to all of His children? God has given life, liberty, dignity, and the increase that flows from a person’s love and labor. Accordingly, when more powerful persons abuse their power by stealing those good things, they commit the sin of injustice.”
In order to recognize injustice, I believe we must know the One from whom justice flows and whose throne is firmly grounded in justice. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne.” Psalm 89:14
How then do we know God?
God, in His love for us and desire for us to know Him personally, reveals Himself to us in a few unique ways.
First, we can know God by experiencing His creation all around us. When I slow down the rat race we call life, I am more aware of the beauty around me such as a magnificently colored sunset, the vast Pacific Ocean and it’s crashing waves tossing sand around forming the beach I so love to enjoy or the mountains of valleys of Yosemite. In creation, we can know God.
Secondly, God has revealed Himself to us in the person of Jesus. Jesus, is God’s way of writing Himself into our story so that we could relate to Him and know Him in a way that our pea-sized brains could comprehend. When we know Jesus, we know God.
Thirdly, God reveals Himself to us in the Bible. There we find truth about who He is, His character of mercy, love, grace and Creator of all good.
Keeping a Sabbath, talking and listening to God through pray and studying and meditating on the truths of His word, give me, not only eyes to see, but guidance to know what to do when I encounter an injustice.
Ken Wytsma says to “pursue justice means to pursue God.” The key to recognizing injustice, is to know the One who is just.