8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God
- Micah 6:8 NIV
This past summer I was one of fifty fellows selected to attend the Black Theological Leadership Institute at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, NJ. A native of South Orange, NJ I was excited to travel back to the garden state to visit my hometown and also better equip myself to serve in ministry. The experience at Princeton was informative, transformative, and inspiring. The Black Theological Leadership (BTLI) is a weeklong intensive continuing education event for clergy and laity for training, worship, and fellowship. The institute is designed for clergy and laity leaders who would like to deepen their thinking and preaching by learning from preeminent scholars of theology and religion.
I went into the fellowship thinking it would be cool to study at Princeton and put that on my resume. I left stretched, empowered, and ready to stand on the front line for social justice and change in Black communities. The theme of the week at Princeton was "African American Biblical Interpretation In a Protest Era."
What is social justice? If we look at Wiki it defines social justice this way. Social justice is the fair and just relation between the individual and society. This is measured by the explicit and tacit terms for the distribution of wealth, opportunities for personal activity and social privileges. Social justice is a Utopian fantasy based on the Leninist concept of "equality of outcome." It says that since you have more, it must be taken away from you to give to those who have less, so that you are both equal. This definition almost never plays out in the Western world where capitalism drives every facet of life. In the world we live in it seems that the majority fails to be concerned about helping the poor or advocating for the broken, fatherless, defenseless, mentally ill, handicapped or those who suffer from education disparities. Instead many seem to be materialistic and have a me, myself, and I mentality.
The last couple of years in the media we have seen cases of unarmed black men and women who have been killed by police or neighborhood watchmen. In the cases the officers claimed that they fired their weapons because they felt their life was in danger. The issue lies in the fact that members of the African American communities deem that the verdicts for the officers in these cases have been unjust. This leads me to believe that one's concept of justice is one that renders a punishment to another. We live in a society with laws, and regulations but those of us who follow Christ know that God is the supreme law maker, lawyer and judge. As believers we are aware that God's concept of justice is different from the world's concept of justice.
In God's concept of justice leaders should pay close attention to Psalm 72. Leaders are parts of the Body and are to strive to live out the divine purpose of government. Psalm 72:1-2 reads, "Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king's son. May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice." According to this verse leaders should govern with the Spirit of God exercising righteousness and justice in every aspect of their leadership. In Micah 6:8 God tells us through the prophet that he has shown his people what is good. When God shows us something he shows it to us for a reason.
God doesn't show us anything without purpose. The purpose of God showing us good is so that we will do good on earth. God shows us good through his grace, mercy, peace, protection, and comfort. The verse in Micah asks "What does God require of you?" The "YOU" is us and God requires us to treat each other fairly. God requires us to advocate for the poor and to fight for equal rights for the marginalized. God requires us to be his representatives for peace, and justice in the world.
In closing I am encouraging someone to go out and lobby for unity, love, and peace. Go out and proclaim that Black Lives do matter and everyone is entitled to freedom and justice. The beautiful Black children in the photograph are holding up signs with words that embody social justice in both America and the world. As you go about your day think about those words and strive to provide those things for all of humanity and especially those who are on the margins of society.
Blessings & Peace
1. What does social justice mean to you?
2. What does justice look like to you?
3. What grassroots endeavors are you involved in that advocate for justice
4. What is your favorite scripture that relates to justice?