Kolkata, India. Photographer: DeepanjanGhosh
“God in his infinite mercy has devised a way by which justice can be satisfied, and yet mercy can be triumphant. Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father, took upon himself the form of man, and offered unto Divine Justice that which was accepted as an equivalent for the punishment due to all his people.” Charles Spurgeon
“We instinctively tend to limit for whom we exert ourselves. We do it for people like us, and for people whom we like. Jesus will have none of that. By depicting a Samaritan helping a Jew, Jesus could not have found a more forceful way to say that anyone at all in need – regardless of race, politics, class, and religion – is your neighbor. Not everyone is your brother or sister in faith, but everyone is your neighbor, and you must love your neighbor.” Tim Keller
There is a lot of injustice in this life. According to recent research from the Pew Research Center, in the U.S. less than half of all violent crimes are reported to the police each year. Meanwhile, less than half of those violent crimes are actually cleared by police and referred to prosecution. These are actually high numbers compared to some countries with rates as high as 93% of crimes unresolved. “Never again” is a phrase and/or ideology that sometimes refers to never allowing a holocaust to happen again, yet there have been at least 10 genocides since the Holocaust. Globally we look around and see many other dire problems abounding, according to a UNICEF report in 2013 an estimated 2,000 children under the age of five die every day from diarrhoeal diseases and of these some 1,800 are linked to water, sanitation, and hygiene. According to a 2017 International Labor Organization report, there are currently around 40 million slaves worldwide, with 25% of these being children. According to a 2015 UNHCR report there are 65 million refugees worldwide currently. The truth is there is a lot of injustice everywhere. In fact, you are quite lucky if you experience minimal injustice in your life.
This is all sounds like a lot of pain and injustice in the world, and it is. So, what does the Bible have to say all about this? First off this question of injustice and evil is not a new issue. It is raised by several of God’s prophets. Habakkuk asks God “O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.” God in the scriptures, during the times of Israel, used some countries to mete out injustice from other countries through war, sometimes God divinely intervened in ways, and at other times God spoke to His prophets to warn people to be part of the plan to relieve justice.
Another thing we see from scriptures is that Injustice happens because God has given us the ability make choices, and often times people choose evil over good. There can not be choice without the possibility of evil. A world without evil is a world with de-humanized choiceless robots. God has given us the ability to make choices, and because of that we can hurt each other. God created a world where the stakes are high. Evil happens to us and through us. Evil happens when we choose to hurt people with our words and actions when we are angry. Evil happens when we see the needs of others in this world, and turn a blind eye. Evil happens because of selfishness, self preservation, hatred, retribution, greed, and often times because of a general failure to act.
Another thing we see from the scriptures is that God hates injustice. The scriptures make this exceedingly clear over and over. Psalm 89:14 says “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne.” God has a special heart for the afflicted. In the first chapter of Isaiah God says “”learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.“ Jesus very first sermon reads out of Isaiah 61 saying “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
God is calling us to be people who look to fight injustice. We see this in the sixth chapter of Micah “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.“ Jesus in the Book of Mathew gives us a parable on how to treat those in need “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
The Bible also makes clear that Christians are not immune to injustice. Eleven of the twelve apostles were murdered in gruesome ways. Tertullian once wrote “The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians.” because he perceived so much Christian persecution was giving the church momentum. Peter tells God’s people in his first letter “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”
Lastly, we see in the scriptures that God will right all wrongs. God is not letting any injustice go by. There will be an accounting for every transgression, every evil action, every word, and even our thoughts. (Mathew 12:36, Mathew 5:22,28, 1 Chronicles 29:17, Revelation 20:12) Our God is good, so He is just, and every transgression will be punished with perfect justice. There will be two courses of action for every person that ever lived, they will either receive justice or grace. Justice for those who reject Jesus and the work of the cross, and grace and mercy for those receive Jesus sacrificial pardon.