Last night, I was fortunate enough to be able to make it along to the Australian premier screening of John Pilger’s new documentary, Utopia, at The Block in Redfern (see the trailer for the film here). It was an emotional experience—some parts are very difficult to watch—with deep sadness, shame and guilt (as a white Australian), anger and even rage being stirred up, but there was also an almost tangible sense of hope that flooded the open-air event.
How do us Christians define ‘justice’? How is it defined in our churches (whether explicitly or implicitly)? How, in turn, are our actions defined by our understanding?
It seems to me that many Christians use the word ‘justice’ without necessarily understanding what (biblical/Christian) justice is all about. I sometimes hear Christians talk about justice in a way that makes it sound tangential to the gospel message at best, downright distracting at worst. Others speak of justice like it’s another passing fad, soon to be left behind by ‘the next big thing’. Others situate justice as a kind of subset of the Good News, or something that Christians might be involved with as a kind of add-on to the more core elements of their faith (or, perhaps, just give lip service to).
I don’t think that any of these options will suffice, and here’s why.
As I was reading this evening, I was struck by the following quote:
We are more concerned with improving our homes than sharing them.
I took to Twitter to share the quote (noting my own sense both of conviction and inspiration at the idea expressed), and a friend suggested I read the short poem ‘The God Letters’ by Steve Turner.
The Lord God says:
‘Share your bread
with the hungry,
bring the homeless poor
into your house,
cover the naked.’
Dear Lord God,
We have got
so this will
not be possible.