By Doug Hutchcraft
On the news or social media, you can't miss it: people young and old, regardless of political affiliation or financial situation, in disbelief about an awful tragedy.
You won't find any shortage of commentary about it. I can't help but process this through my own experience - listening to people with hearts that have been broken. My desire is to try to respond with God's perspective. My dad Ron puts it powerfully: "Since 9/11 I have prayed during shocking moments in the news: 'Lord, help me see and feel what You see and feel here.'"
I haven't experienced injustice in the same way so many have. My wife is Native American, and I've lived on a reservation. It's plain to see the issue of injustice greatly affects anyone who's in a minority. I have seen up close and personal the pain caused by injustice.
There seems to be something inside us that recoils at injustice - whether it's clergy abuse, abuse of women and children, special legal treatment for powerful people, or unheralded injustices at our work or school. Or certainly one involving a deadly, violent incident.
There's a reason for our heart's recoil. It's a reflection of God's heart and we're created in His image. God has wired us this way. Our hearts crying out for justice are a reflection of His own heart that cries out for the same. The cry is not a political one, but a holy one.
God has rooted caring about justice in our hearts. This was displayed in Jesus' time on earth - how He treated people, defying sexism, racism and favoritism. According to His Word, everybody is "His workmanship" (Ephesians 2:10) and lovingly "formed in their mother's womb" (Psalm 139:13). When we see that workmanship being wronged, it arouses the heart God wired us with: the cry for justice to be done.
God's heart about injustice is in the book of Isaiah. His people were doing worship and good deeds without doing justice. The rich were exploiting the poor. The people lifted their hands to worship God but their hands were stained with blood (Isaiah 58:59; 1:15, 21). God could not answer their prayers because their sins hid His face from them. By ignoring justice, their "holy" actions were worthless to Him!
There are amazing promises for those who obey God in doing justice. When we alleviate human need and act in justice, God promises that our night will turn to day. We will enjoy guidance, and experience abundant supply of good things, health, strength, beauty, fruitfulness, and even national restoration.
Seeing someone in authority - a boss, teacher, parent, pastor or someone with a badge - hurt someone made in the image of God forces its way into our conscience. It's easy to look through the window at this. It's harder to look in the mirror. Because when I do, I see the darkness in my own heart. And one thing becomes clear: the essence of prejudice and injustice are fed and served by seeing people as categories. "I know what you're like because you're ____________." God made individuals, not categories.
Jeremiah 17:9 says "The heart is polluted above all things and incurably sick." Our hearts are in danger of getting polluted when we let our own darkness become the "answer" to the darkness of injustice. Without the love of God ruling our heart, righteous anger about injustice can quickly and subtly turn into hatred and deep-rooted bitterness. Surrendering to Jesus is surrendering to the One who spoke against injustice in the Old Testament, and died so our hearts would be rescued from that polluted heart that produces injustice. Dr. F.L. Foakes-Jackson, distinguished church historian, well said, "History shows that the thought of Christ on the cross has been more potent than anything else in arousing a compassion for suffering and indignation at injustice."
As we look forward to Jesus' "glorious return," where He will "make all things right," what shall we do in the meantime? God answers in Micah 6:8: "What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." As I look around my personal sphere and community, I ask how I can contribute to justice being done and caring about the powerless. It is personal acts of caring and reaching out which are part of a right response in times like these when the "desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9) condition of the human heart is on display.
Eric C. Redmond, Associate Professor of Bible, Moody Bible Institute, puts it this way: "Any objective reading of the New Testament should bring the reader to the conclusion that God has a great love for the world. This love is demonstrated through the giving of His Son who was the prophetic fulfillment of Isaiah 42 - a servant of God who would bring justice to the world."
We can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we have a God who understands and cares deeply about injustice. Jesus Himself was the victim of horrible injustice through His trial and crucifixion - a Savior Who understands our feelings and suffering.
Ultimately, to live Micah 6:8 is to invite Jesus to change my "desperately wicked" heart to a "new creation." Each of us can "do justly" because we've been "justified by faith" through belief in the death and resurrection of God's Son on our behalf (Romans 5:1). "Loving mercy" is personally experiencing God's mercy (Ephesians 2:4). To "walk humbly with our God" is to walk humbly before Him by confessing our sins and claiming His promise of forgiveness through the shedding of His Son's blood (Luke 14:11, James 4:10).
Back to my dad's prayer: "Lord, help me see what You see." One thing He sees for sure in every injustice: the victim and the victimizer. Both made in His image. Both paid for with His blood. And His heart is broken.
So should mine be.