Category Archives: justice

All Justice is Social: Toward Access, Equity, and Opportunity for All

All justice is social. In our world of political correctness and virtue-signaling, of political checklists and polarized opinions, “social justice” is a phrase that has been highjacked by political extremists. On the Left, it becomes a catch-all for particular economic, moral, and social policies that opponents find subversive of American ideals. On the Right, the phrase is a signal that one can ignore what is about to be said! We need a new understanding of justice.

All justice is social. Justice is not mere retribution. Nor is justice forcible redistribution. Biblically and historically, justice includes an integration of personal character and social conditions, along with institutional integrity so that all classes and cultures are treated fairly. When King Solomon prayed for, “the wisdom to do justice” he was praying for fairness and against the perversion of justice by the powerful and wealthy.

All justice is social. This means that we must advocate for personal character and institutional reform, for systems that open access and opportunity because they are built on true equity (a level playing field), not just an abstract idea of equality. Education, economic opportunity, fair courts and policing, support for intact families, and an ethos of empowerment are all elements of justice leading to flourishing families and communities.

All justice is social. Equity is not a guarantee of equal outcomes, but it ensures opportunity to take risks and offer support when things do not work out. If we want to repair and redeem historic injustices, change in the human heart must unite with change in every institution. De jure (legal) fairness may be inscribed in laws, but de facto (real life) opportunities are still elusive for too many people.

All justice is social. The enemies of justice are always waiting to seize any moment to pervert and subvert fairness and opportunity. The lust for power and wealth can erode the best intentions. Arrogance blinds us to altruism that serves others. Winning at all costs undermines calls for integrity. High-powered lawyers get the rich off with minimal sentencing while the poor are served by overworked public defenders and sentenced severely. And for people of color, the unfairness is multiplied.

All justice is social. We can work for conditions that offer opportunity and create systems to support those in need. We can apply the law equitably to all and aim for restoration when possible. We can help cultivate entrepreneurial enterprise with ethics that care about people, planet, and profit.

May we ask the Lord for the wisdom to do justice in our day.

Two Prayers for America

America is not a chosen nation, but she has many chosen people praying and living with integrity that have helped her be a blessing to the world. Our story also includes horrific compromise of our highest ideals, especially our treatment of the indigenous peoples and African Americans. We can love our land and lament our sins. We can improve our nation without destroying her ideals. And prayer must be underneath the laments and longings for justice.

Prayer is God’s invitation to participate in his divine mission to reconcile and redeem, renew and restore all things. Our almighty, sovereign Lord has decided that our humble petitions, compassionate intercessions, and persevering supplications matter in fulfilling his will on earth as it is in heaven.

Here are two short prayers for our nation. There is no pretense here that just the right words will somehow manipulate God – that would be pagan superstition. Instead, our prayers, in alignment with Holy Scripture and empowered by the Holy Spirit, become a force for good in a world enmeshed in evil. In these days of pandemic and polarization, political passions and personal animosities, humble prayer may make the difference between mercy and judgment for our land.

Prayer for Peace of Mind and Divine Presence in Our Land

O God, you are transcendent and immanent. You are totally other; totally different from us. But you are also Immanuel, God with us. You were delighted to dwell among us in the person of your Son, Jesus Christ. What grace! You are the God who comes close. Lord, come close to our national leaders. Come close to the justices that sit on the Supreme Court. Come close to those in the Senate and in the House of Representatives. Come close to our local leaders – our police departments, mayors, and governors. Come close, dear Master, to those in laboratories that are feverishly developing a vaccine for this virus. Come close, Dear God, to peaceful protestors, the abused, the hungry, the bewildered, the outraged, the motherless, the fatherless, the dying, the mourning, the widow, the disabled, the oppressed, and the immigrant. Lord, come close to us, in cul-de-sacs, hamlets, towns, rural areas, cities, and suburbs.  Come close, dear Lord, to those who are easing back into the workplace with trepidation. Omnipresent Lord, please share your closeness with all of us, everyone on the face of this globe. In Jesus’ majestic and mighty name, Amen.

Prayer for Humility and Wisdom

O Lord, you are infinite and intimate, and the Source of all that is good. You promised wisdom for the humble who seek you and search for truth. You promised wisdom as we pray and trust you. Your wisdom is pure, peaceable, and leads to peacemaking and righteousness. Lord, we need your wisdom as we confront the injustices all around us and the unrighteousness in our own hearts. We need wisdom to lament and repent well. We need your wisdom to cultivate new relationships across all the barriers in our world. We need wisdom to reform social structures that keep millions from flourishing. We need wisdom for our businesses, churches, families, communities, cities, and nation. We humbly plead that you will grant wisdom. We also accept your wisdom from the mouths of the marginalized and oppressed, the voices of history, and the prophets calling us to holiness. And we thank you in advance for your generosity toward us, even when it means surgery in our souls. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Americans, indigenous , African Americans, justice, Holy Spirit, mission, nation, prayer, Senate, House of Representatives, virus, police, wisdom

Differences that Make a Difference

Learning thoughtfulness amidst the overwhelming data around us is challenging. In our desires for peace and justice, we must refine our critical thinking capacities and recognize what is timeless truth and what are timely opinions.

Here are some differences that make a difference:

Legitimate outrage about racism vs. anarchy and destruction.

Repairing historic, systemic injustices vs. calls for ending the family and imposing Marxism.

Repentance of prejudices of class, gender, and race vs. hatred for anyone with traditional values.

Passionate, principled debate vs. a cancel culture of personal destruction.

Building a world with true toleration vs. fear of violence.

Serious journalistic inquiry and allowing real evidence to further investigation vs. repetition of talking points and allegations.

Repairing our environment vs. alarmism cloaking wealth redistribution.

Accepting history as a tapestry of beautiful and broken narratives vs. cherry picking for agendas.

Treating every person with dignity and respect and respecting cultural diversity vs. blanket categorizations and generalizations.

Freedom of conscience allowing us to bring our best selves to the public square vs. privatizing any moral and religious convictions.

Let’s help the world be more thoughtful.

We Need New Hearts

We need new hearts.
Even if we righted every historic wrong, established the fairest pathways of opportunity, reformed every institution…we would still be incomplete in our pursuit of justice without one more change: a transformation of the human heart that is only possible with divine love. Yes to systemic change…and a concomitant yes to reconciliation with God and each other arising from the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus. This more than a feeling…it is a metamorphosis of thinking, affections, and the will.

Lord, cleanse my heart of every hidden evil, all prejudice, and the selfishness lurking, waiting to take over in my vulnerable moments.

Lord, cleanse your church of apathy and fear, her sins of commission and omission, and help us reveal your love in how we love one another and all among us.

Lord, heal our land. Help us repent deeply, reconcile fully, and renew sustainably.

Lord, you resist the proud, and give grace to the humble. May your presence overcome polarizations. May your power overcome weaknesses. May your Passion be our pathway as we serve one another. Amen.

Good Intentions Subverted by Other Agendas

Dear conservative and progressive friends (and those of goodwill who dislike labels):

Throughout history movements for needed change are subverted by agendas contrary to the values of the initial advocates. Criminal justice and police reform, economic and educational change, ridding our souls and systems of racism – all of these and much more are worthy aims.

The well-orchestrated violence on the streets and the agendas of extremists are obscuring the legitimate (and painful) reform movements. When we stop reacting and start reflecting, there are creative ways forward that unite instead of divide.

Ethics are universal, but action begins locally. Better schools, new business opportunities, the end of banking and food deserts, and community-police cooperation…all of these require courage, wisdom, and love for neighbor, not burning buildings and refusing to listen to reason.

All of this begins with women and men who are thoughtful and refuse entrapment by ideological purity tests, Left or Right. Conservative friends unsparingly renounce racism and extreme nationalism and join with local leaders and foster conditions for flourishing. Liberal friends, renounce Antifa and other forms of violent overthrowing of government and honestly work with others for a more just world in the neighborhood.

Too many folks are paralyzed by fear of being seen as unpatriotic or unwoke. When this fear is replaced by faith in the Almighty, the courage to work toward justice, and the humility to discover pathways with others different from us, hope awakens, and communities thrive.