BTSF in chronological order (most recent articles appear first):

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pursuing Justice

What does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

What if pursuing God means pursuing justice? Have we obeyed God's command: "Follow justice and justice alone"? Have we given the cause of justice the true attentions of our hearts, souls, and minds?

Ken Wystma's new book, Pursuing Justice, reminds us of the centrality of justice in our relationship with God. Wystma challenges us to transform our understanding of Christian faith, hope, and love into the fruits of justice-driven redemption of the world.

We want to believe that the world is a fair place. But it's not. We see oppression, poverty, sickness, pain everyday on our new feeds. This jarring realization can be crippling to our faith until we realize that these injustices deeply grieve our God as well.

The miracle of God's grace is that he allows us to take part in the restoration of His world--a restoration that He has begun, and He will finish, but in which He has also allowed us to participate. 

Like children shattering grandma's heirloom china, we destroy the the intricate harmony of God's Kingdom when we pursue our own agendas. We forget the fragile nature of each other's spirits, of our community's bonds, of our nations' peace, of our planet's ecosystem. How precious, how delicate we each are, yet how coarsely we treat one another.

But Christ's reconciliation helps us pick up the pieces and gently glue each one back together We have the opportunity to mend the brokenness--if not perfectly, then at least in such a way that we learn the value of what was damaged. By allowing us to participate in it's redemption, God helps us care for, and ultimately love His creation better. And thus, God restores our relationship with Him, as well as with the rest of His creation.

This is God's desire for our relationship with Him. Will we instead turn away from the brokenness? Pretend it isn't there? Pretend we can do nothing about it? 

"Do not be alarmed.
This is a kindness"
Wystma asks "When was the last time we considered—seriously considered—our own moral blindness?" How does our own self-righteousness actually hinder God's message of love and justice? Are we hurting when we think were are helping? Do we mistakenly believe we are the saviors, when really we are the beneficiaries? 

Wystma asserts we have much to learn from those we think we are serving: "The wisdom of community resources and creative thinking. An understanding of what it means to be an exile. The importance of family and extended family and networks of kin. Enthusiasm. Wise stewardship of available resources. Resiliency. Strategies for fighting materialism and consumerism. An organic connection between spiritual and material concerns. What it means to trust God daily." Would we miss out on what God would have for us in these things?

The final warning from Pursuing Justice is that we not simply fall prey to the trendy fad that Christian justice work is in danger of becoming. Justice is an act of worship. In fact, holds far more value in God's eyes than any of our Sunday morning praises (Isaiah 58 and Amos 5:23–24). In these passages, "God seems to be saying that the purest form of worship, the worship He finds most pleasing, is justice."

We need not be compelled by guilt, or a desire to make ourselves look righteous. We don't even need to get involved in the big-name issues of injustice that often get all the attention. Indeed, "the call to give your life away is more about the small and faithful over many years than the grand and exciting." God has given each of us specific passions for His kingdom, and equips us with the skills to engage with those passions.

Find your unique place. What has God called you to do? How will you worship Him?

Ken Wystma is the founder of The Justice Conference, President of Kilns College, and Pastor of Antioch Church in Bend, OR. Find his new book, Pursuing Justice, in bookstores starting February 12.

Disclosure: BTSF received an advance reader’s copy of the
Perusing Justice manuscript from Ken Wytsma for review.


  1. Pursuing Justice also offers a disentanglement of the skepticism of social justice and the 'social gospel.' Wystma observes a growing desire "to mend the artificial divide—the false dichotomy—between material and spiritual, and return to a robust gospel message that includes the proclamation of Jesus and the embodying, person-transforming, society-changing love of Jesus...Woe to us if, when confronted with the countless injustices in our world, we think we must choose either right belief or right action."

    Some additional choice quotes:
    "Apathy tells us that it’s perfectly acceptable to live with illusions of our own justice"

    In regard to short term mission, and being beneficiaries instead of benefactors:
    "I believe we need to call these trips by what they really are: Learning trips. Exposure trips. Relationship trips. Engagement trips"

    On unintended injustice:
    "The way we consume directly affects the lived realities of other people, whether we want it to or not. The story we are part of is far larger than we think"

  2. Love this concept of worship! Thanks for sharing.


Creative Commons License
By Their Strange Fruit by Katelin H is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at @BTSFblog