What’s your concept of “justice”?

I (sort of) grew up during the sixties.

I didn’t do drugs or burn my draft card, but like every teenager of my generation I was influenced by the hippie culture. I wore my share of odd clothing (when Dad wasn’t looking, mostly) and I adopted the universal greeting of the time:

“Peace.”

Nothing wrong with that, I guess. All thing being equal, I’m pretty much in favor of peace. I must admit, though, that like most perfunctory greetings it was fairly hollow.

This week our small group watched a video presentation by Timothy Keller in which he discussed the Biblical meaning of justice. He began by explaining the word shalom.

Shalom is the word from Scripture that’s usually translated as “peace,” but it’s really much deeper than that. Peace, to us, usually means the absence of violence or hostility. Shalom carries a much richer meaning.

In Keller’s words, “Shalom means total flourishing in absolutely every dimension: physically, relationally, socially, and spiritually.”

In other words, shalom offers an image of the way things ought to be, the world as God intended it.

Relationship

Since God is all about relationship, Keller contends that shalom must be about authentic relationships with God, with others, with self, and with the surrounding environment.

Shalom isn’t simply the absence of hostility, it’s the presence of deep, rich, authentic relationships in every aspect of life.

Micah 6:8 has always seemed like a fundamental verse to me:

He has shown all you people what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

I’ve always wondered about the command to “act justly.” Exactly what does that mean?

Shalom

Perhaps shalom provides guidance. God wants me to use my gifts, resources, and love to act in the interest of shalom. I think that might be what it means to “act justly.”

Wherever I encounter people or relationships that are not completely flourishing in absolutely every dimension, God calls me to do what I can to intervene, to restore the shalom He intended.

That’s the Biblical concept of justice. It’s love in action in the world.

I wish you shalom.

What’s your take on this notion of Biblical justice?

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