The historical documents of our nation are filled with poetic language. “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”
But nowhere are these ideals expressed more poetically or profoundly than in the Bible–both Old and New Testament. The Prophet Amos wrote, “Let justice roll on like a river.” And Micah simplified God’s expectations by saying, “He has showed you, O man, 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.”<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
While our nation is founded on the ideals of liberty and justice, those principles are rooted in the Bible. And to fully grasp what justice means, we have to go to the source of justice, God. The Bible defines justice as the order God seeks to reestablish in His creation, where all people receive the benefits of life with God.
Too often, biblical justice is seen as only the retributive side of God, or punishment. But the Bible speaks far more about the benefits of justice. In the community of faith, justice should be seen as we share the advantages of life in society. These include the sharing of material wealth, participation, opportunities, and freedoms. That is the true call of justice.
Americans believe humanity has been blessed with unalienable rights endowed by our Creator. American Christians should understand this better than anyone.
The Bible is specific in outlining social justice. Particular groups are mentioned as recipients of this justice.
In Deuteronomy 10:18, God commands justice for three specific groups:
–Orphans: There are an estimated 143 million orphans in our world today. They live in abhorrent conditions, from slums where children pick through trash piles for food, to houses of prostitution where little girls are subjected to unspeakable sexual exploitation.
–Widows: In our world today, that can be interpreted as senior adults who are often neglected and forgotten. Or it can also be thought of gender inequality that, according to a recent report by the United Nations, plagues every region of the world, “leading to limited opportunities in education and work for girls and women, and outright gender-based violence in the forms of physical and sexual violence.” According to the report, the health and well being of children is directly related to how women are treated.
–Aliens: These are resident aliens; sojourners or strangers in a strange land. And centuries later, this is one of the most pressing issues facing the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />United States today. In America, we use the term “illegal aliens.” We call it immigration reform. God calls it justice. Deuteronomy commands us to “give him food and clothing.”
The organization I lead, Buckner International, has spent the past 128 years fulfilling this biblical mandate. All three of these categories are especially significant to us as we plan strategically and act practically.
We provide orphan care to boys and girls around the globe, working to improve their lives and living conditions. Buckner is a refuge for the orphan and a respite for the abandoned, one child at a time.
Our retirement communities are founded on the ideal that elders in our society deserve to live with dignity and grace. And we believe that women are created equally by God. Our real-world field experience at Buckner teaches us that children everywhere are treated in direct correlation to the way women are treated.
And we have launched a massive ministry along the Texas/Mexico border designed to improve the lives of residents, both aliens and citizens. This year, more than 3,000 volunteers will join Buckner as we seek to improve the lives of these families by building and improving homes, teaching the Bible, and sharing love and hope.
Justice demands action. Without action, the call for justice is only poetic language. I do not believe that is what the founders of this great nation intended. And I know it is not what God expects.
Ken Hall is president and CEO of Buckner International. This column appeared in his blog