Act Justly
What makes you spit fire mad? What really gets your blood boiling? Do you get that mad over taxes or the rising cost of living? Do you get mad about political happenings? What about being robbed? Would you get super mad if you were robbed? What if a drunk driver hit your family? Just writing these words makes me mad. I can’t imagine how I would respond especially if the last scenario played out in real life for me. Usually, the things that make us most mad happen all at once. We don’t have time to process the deed and act out in anger. God designed out bodies that way. Anger is a real emotion and there is a righteous place for it. What I’d like to talk about today are the things that should make us mad and, for whatever reason, leave us calm instead.

We usually get most mad when the offence affects us personally. First-person anger happens when I get punched in the face, when someone lies about me, when I lose my job… Sometimes first-person anger is justified. Many times, it is not. Many times, I deserve a punch in the face. Many times, lies are told because I initiated the gossip. Many times, my job is on the line because I failed to perform or botched the work I was tasked with accomplishing. 

The Christ follower is being changed, one piece at a time, to accept responsibility and respond wisely to wrongs done to us. We are also being given opportunities to respond to wrongs done that are not connected to us personally. Acting justly doesn’t only occur when we are wronged. Justice should happen when any wrong is done, anywhere, anytime, to anyone. As believers, we should be the first cry foul when we see injustice in the world. Why are we so often silent? 

Let me give you some examples. When you hear of the girl being abused that is not your daughter, how do you respond? When you hear about a shooting and the victim isn’t kin to you, what do you do? What would your kids say about your actions toward the homeless or the addicted? Many of those situations are prime examples of injustice. Often, the situations that are slow to develop, slip off our radar. We find it easier to explain them away than we do act justly. “We have enough going on. Those aren’t my problems. I’m not trained to respond in those situations. Let the professionals handle that.” By not acting we are perpetuating injustice. 

Remember the “Neighborhood Watch” signs? Those typically meant “Call if you see someone who doesn’t belong here.” I don’t remember seeing those signs in tough neighborhoods. I’m not advocating a neighborhood watch here. The goal here isn’t to report suspicious characters. I’m asking you to begin to see brokenness and respond to it. Don’t report injustice, make it just! Don’t just refuse to pass along the lies. Find out the truth! Don’t be content to pray for the lady in the abusive situation and walk away. Get to know her. Don’t pass the guy with the sign and shake your head. Go volunteer at the homeless shelter and hear the stories. Don’t look down on the guy at the grocery store with the EBT card. Ask him his name and the names of his children. Ask him for his story. You and I are being changed by the love of God. We have no excuse for not responding to injustice.

This story played out in the first degree in the 50’s and 60’s right here in the American South. How many Christians witnessed raw injustice—torture and even death—and did absolutely nothing about it? How many were a part of racial hatred? Christians have no excuse. People who don’t know Jesus, still have a conscience, but it’s often seared beyond recognition. But people who know the Lord have a new heart and mind. We can recognize injustice for a reason…so we can do something about it. Speak up! Correct it! Make it right! Don’t just sit by assuming someone else will take care of it.

I would hope the image of God being marred in another human is enough to make you mad. I would hope you would be willing to speak the truth openly and to whomever needs to hear it. I would hope you would go the extra mile to protect, show love and pour out compassion on every broken soul God allows to cross your path. I would hope you can care for more pain than your own. 

The Gospel is rooted in the idea of selflessness. God invented selflessness! Jesus sat everything aside to show love to us, including bearing the rawest of all injustices on the cross. I am forever grateful He chose not to pass me by with a random excuse or because He was tired that day. His selflessness means new life for me. His choices require me to give up my own selfishness. What about you?