Seeking Justice: From Fan to Advocate – by Kelly Cameron
Justice is a popular word these days. God’s command in Isaiah 1:17 to “seek justice” fits easily into the trend of being ‘justice-minded’ as a Christian. You can find it on t-shirts, coffee mugs, or as a hashtag; but the weight of God’s call to justice takes on new meaning when I look at the context of the verse. As I read through the first chapter of Isaiah, I’m struck by the fact that God is not impressed with the religious sacrifices, ceremonies or even prayers of the people. They’ve sinned (v.4) and rebelled (v.2) and He tells them to, clean up their act – “wash yourselves, make yourselves clean…. cease to do evil” (v 16).
In my own life, I often stop at that first instruction – stop doing evil. It’s easy to test the temperature of my walk with God by what I am not doing – “I don’t __________” (insert sin here), rather than what I am doing. But the instruction continues, “Learn to do right”. Then God spells out what it looks like to “do right”; seek justice: relieve the oppressed, correct the oppressor, defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. I love that God gives specific action points for what it looks like to seek justice, because it is easy to fall into being a fan of justice, without actually doing much to bring it about.
God’s invitation to seek justice is risky. It involves putting yourself between the oppressed and the oppressor. In our work at IJM, my colleagues around the world put their personal safety and even their lives on the line to see the poor protected from violence. In seeking justice, we not only come to the aid of the oppressed, but also bring correction to the oppressor, whether an individual or a whole system. It can feel daunting, but the good news is that we’re not in this alone. God loves justice and invites us to join Him in the everyday work of seeking it.
Seeking justice is active, and it can take place around the world, but also in our own backyards. As a Christian, seeking justice is not just an accessory to my faith. It is a core aspect of what it means to follow Christ daily. Every justice journey begins with a first step. Mine began when I learned about the reality of children being trafficked for sex in Southeast Asia through a high school project. It led me to work both in Cambodia and here in Canada to end this abuse. Where will your journey lead you? It might be to your own neighbourhood or to raising your voice over an injustice in your community or choosing to side with those who are being crushed.
Wherever your justice journey may take you, take that first step.
Head to IJM Canada’s website to learn more about their work combatting violence in the developing world.