A Few Thoughts on Justice in an Unjust World
When much visible injustice is seen and experienced at once, the heartfelt burden for justice increases – as it should. Isn’t this what we see today? You can look at any one direction in our world and see both the sin of injustice and the passion for justice.
Now, God is aware of our sinful condition and graciously provides for us in His Word the remedy to this epidemic. The gospel of God through Jesus provides grace and forgiveness for those committing injustices and freedom and peace to those in bondage. But in accordance with the gospel, I believe a few biblical principles on justice would do us well, especially in a world of not only injustices, but wrong understandings of justice.
God holds the objective definition and description of justice. We could say that justice is upholding whatever is good. According to Genesis 1:31, once God had made the entirety of the heavens and the earth including its orders and structures, it is written that “God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” It’s also written of God in Psalm 89:14 that “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of [His] throne.”
Therefore, all of God’s “very good” creation was made from a foundation of what is just. We can rightly say that injustice is best understood as
a denial or distortion of what God has made “very good.”
Notice that this definition of injustice is not man-centered, but God-centered.
Because of God’s moral law having been written on the hearts of all people (Romans 2:14-16), everyone has an inclination towards what is objectively good and just. Now, sin has caused us to often reject what God has established. We either deny what God has called good, which can look like apathy towards genuine injustice, or we can distort what God has called good, and claim a man-centered definition of justice – this looks like calling something “good” and “just” even though, according to God’s Word, it’s sinful.
In His sovereignty, God has set up physical rulers and authorities to bring about approval for good works and discipline for bad works (Romans 13:1-7). We can think of civil government and all that they do to help promote justice.
Again, because sin has affected every person, governments are not immune to corrupting justice and what God has called “very good.” But somehow, God, in His sovereignty, is still reigning amongst the injustices of the world. The importance of this principle is to have an understanding that God works His justice in and through earthly rulers and authorities. We should encourage our earthly leaders in government when they promote genuine justice and fight real injustice.
In this brief reflection on justice, I think the most important principle is the first one: that God has established what is “just.” And what is “just” is “very good.” Why is it very good? Because when God’s creation (and all that consists in that) is working perfectly in the way in which it was made, it glorifies God. And whatever glorifies God is good – very good.
So, as we continue to live in a world in which we’re bombarded with injustices, may we remember that true justice is held and defined by God alone, that all people have a sense or inclination towards that justice (though continue to deny and distort it), and that God sovereignly works at promoting justice in the world – even through our sinfulness.