By Rondell Treviño, Founder/Director, TiC
When studying the Bible, it’s clear justice is a gospel issue because it is beautifully woven into the fabric of Scripture, of which the Church — people on mission — are required to live out as an implication of their relationship with God through Jesus Christ on behalf of the marginalized.
The problem is some Christians believe justice is not a gospel issue, but rather a distraction from the gospel of Jesus Christ rooted in heresy. Often times, the same Christians in this camp also believe we should just share the gospel and stay away from issues such as racism, immigration, and the refugee crisis because they are “too political.” However, I believe when Christians, according to the Bible, care for the marginalized — as people created in God’s image who are worthy of love, respect, and dignity — along with engaging in the issues they face, this gives more attention and beautiful detail to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Hebrew word for justice, mishpat, occurs in its various forms more than 200 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. Its most basic meaning is to treat people equitably. It means acquitting or punishing every person on the merits of the case, regardless of race or social status. If we look at every place the word is used in the Old Testament, several classes of persons continually come up.
Over and over again, mishpat describes taking up the care of widows, refugees, orphans, immigrants and the poor — those who are marginalized (Deuteronomy 10:18; Micah 6:8). The marginalized who God commands us to “do justice” toward today would also include the sexually abused, unborn, migrants, people of color and elderly. Any neglect shown to the needs of these members is not called merely a lack of care, but a violation of justice, mishpat.
In Luke 10:1-24, Jesus sends out His disciples to evangelize and preach the Word. Immediately following is the parable of the good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37, where Jesus uses the Samaritan to demonstrate justice by loving a marginalized and beaten man in need. The Samaritan sees the beaten man, walks across the street, cleans his wounds, carries him on his own animal, pays money for him to stay in an inn, stays with him at the inn and, then, plans to come back to check on him.
This is justice. As Christians, we also must demonstrate the same type of justice by loving our abused, unborn, migrant, people of color, orphan, fatherless, immigrant, refugee and elderly neighbors. We must lay ourselves out on behalf of the marginalized through deeds of justice because they are people to love, not problems to solve.
Fellow Christians, justice is a gospel issue because it is woven into the fabric of Scripture — where it is seen through caring for the marginalized and loving our neighbor as ourselves. And we are required, not suggested, to live out this justice as an implication of our relationship with God through Jesus Christ.