Four years ago, during the first few weeks of the fall semester, a lively debate broke out between two students in a classroom at a small university in middle-Georgia. They were both taking an introductory class on the philosophy of ethics, a course focused primarily on assigned readings and class discussion. During one in-class discussion, a Christian student referenced a passage of scripture from the Old Testament to support his point. Another student, an atheist, immediately challenged his point by referencing a different passage of scripture from the New Testament. A spirited debate ensued, with both students referencing different Bible passages from the Old and New Testament to argue their respective points.
The story I share is an episode from my own life. It is an example of the exception, not the rule. It’s rare that anyone outside the faith will recognize the legitimate contribution that Scripture offers in regard to cultural or political issues. The idea in the mainstream right now is that the Bible has nothing relevant to say about issues of gender identity, sexual orientation, injustice, etc. To embrace the orthodox teaching of God’s word on an issue like same-sex marriage is to risk being labeled a “bigot” or “prejudiced” or “hateful.” The Bible is not a welcomed or accepted source of truth as it pertains to current political and social issues. As Christians, however, the Scripture must be the first place we go when we look for the truth. This is especially accurate as it relates to political and social issues. The issue of justice is an excellent place to ponder this principle.
The Bible is abundantly clear that God delights in justice. The very foundation of His throne, according to Psalm 89, is righteousness and justice. In Isaiah 51, God declares, “I will set my justice for a light to the peoples. My righteousness draws near, my salvation has gone out, and my arms will judge the peoples; the coastlands hope for me, and for my arm they wait.” God declares “my justice, my righteousness, and my salvation” as a light to the world. There is only one justice that God declares “mine.”
His command is clear to His people in Zechariah 7 when he says, “Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” Aside from Christ himself, the wisest man to ever walk the earth was King Solomon. What does he have to say about justice? “Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it completely.”
As Christians, we are not innately or intuitively predisposed to rightly understand justice. The Scripture teaches we are to earnestly seek the Lord in order to understand what justice is and how to carry it out on behalf of the weak, the poor, the sojourner and the fatherless. Practically speaking, how do we know if we are getting it right? I think Dr. Albert Mohler, President of Southern Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, gets it exactly right when he says, “Where God’s people are, there must be an increasing realization of the justice of God in the society of which they are a part.” Injustice exists in our society. The question is, how do Christians know what action to take to cause “an increasing realization of the justice of God”?
I want to challenge and encourage my classmates, my brothers and sisters in Christ, to discern the will of God by engaging with His Word. Today, there are many popular, secular social movements. Before any judgments about these movements are made, let’s look at their goals and their methods in the light of the truth of Scripture. Do they affirm what we know is true of Scripture? Are we allowing the truth and authority of God’s word to help us discern what policies and movements we should embrace, or are we reading God’s word with an agenda? The culture says God’s word is irrelevant. If we embrace the Bible as the word of God, we will be ridiculed and mocked. Are we prepared to be called fools for Christ for the sake of God’s word?
Our generation is passionate about many things. Are we growing impatient with sound teaching from God’s Word? My encouragement for the student body is simple: start each day reading the Word of God, because it is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 ESV).