Currently, I am reading N. T. Wright's Simply Christian, which seeks to describe what" Christianity is all about" to both those outside and inside the faith. The first chapter is dedicated purely to humanity's quest for justice- why do people long for justice? When looking at God's design of humanity, I have usually considered a longing for meaning, belonging, and love. However, it seems that God may have made us with a more rounded tendency, both longing for mercy and justice. Instead of the difference between right and wrong, maybe God is really concerned with justice.
Everyone, whether consciously or not, has a vision for justice. We dream the dream of justice. We glimpse, for a moment, a world at one, a world put to rights, a world where things work out, where socieites function fairly and efficiently, where we not only know what we ought to do but actually do it (Wright, 3). Everyone desires fairness and equity, even if their definitions are sometimes tainted. Think of kids, brash and outspoken children. When children see someone wrongly punished for something they did not do, what do children say? "That's not fair!" Even if an adult says, "well that's the law." Wright even says that justice is a part of what it means to be human. Daily I am struck with the longing for things to be on earth as in Heaven. I dream of what Heaven looks like in daily situations. When I see violence, cruelty, conflict, hatred, prejudice, famine, earthquakes, abuse of natural resources, and disrespect for other living creatures, I often stop to imagine what it would be like if we all were in right relationship, if we all were in right relationship with God. I day dream a vision of justice in everyday life, unrestricted. Some people believe this is a form of unpractical idealism, and command that I lower my standards to "the way things just are." However, I was comforted by Wright's diagnosis... I am just being human.
God is the source of this vision for justice.
There are three basic ways of explaining this sense of [this call to justice]... We can say, if we like, that it is indeed only a dream, a projection of childish fantasies, and that we have to get used to living in the world the way it is... Or we can say, if we like, that the dream is of a different world altogether, a world where we really belong, where everything is indeed put to rights, a world into which we can escape in our dreams in the present and hope to escape one day for good... Or we can say, if we like, that the reason we have these dreams, the reason we have a sense of a memory of the echo of a voice, is that there is someone speaking to us, whispering in our inner ear-someone who cares very much about this present world and our present selves, and who has made us and the world for a purpose which will indeed invovle justice, things being put to rights, ourselves being put to rights, the world being resecued at last (Wright, 8-9).
Some great religious traditions agree with the last option: Judaism, Christianity, Islam. Throughout the last year, I have been listening to the Old Testament on CD while driving. Throughout these times of listening, I am catching new emphasis upon justice that I missed before. Listening to the law helped me to understand that it was really about insuring people justice through protection and wisdom. Looking at Christ's designation that the law is summed up in two commands: love God and your neighbor, I see how God has been weaving in justice throughout the ages, B.C. and A.D. Christians have seemed to lost the inheritance Christ intended us to receive from Israel, the passion for justice. This is not a left-wing mission or liberalism seeking to dirty our faith... I believe it is the truth that God is source of justice. That God wants his people to be human.