Sometimes it gets to be too much, a lot everything but no love.

Sometimes it gets to be too much, a lot everything but no love.

Sometimes it gets to be too much, a lot everything but no love.

Is it possible to live justly? Sometimes things work culturally in one context, things are sensible and agreed upon, but across country lines and oceans and cultures things break down. It often feels like justice and religion cannot coexist. You must give into one at the forfeiture of part or all of the other. In theory it seems these should be married. In application, there’s not enough space, not enough grace, not enough faith. Someone, something will get carried away and we like to prepare ourselves against that. We all want to be just on our own grounds – the terms and conditions taught to us through the time machine of history. But history herself has a fuzzy memory sometimes. She circles and underlines somethings while footnoting others. And depending on who she is, your history and my history is probably different. History, as I see it now, will it be the history the next generation is conditioned with? Where’s the justice in that?

Me. American. African American. Here. Tanzania. Biracial children. Colonialism. Imperialism. I know just my presence is a reminder of injustices suffered, it’s been said in passing here and there but more so I see it in the stares. I’ve learned that it’s easy, abashedly so, to talk about forgiveness when you have yet to empathize with the pain in someone’s eyes, the visible scars on their body, and the unseen trauma their hearts. And because of the track marks of injustice, this is a stumbling block the size of a boulder in pursuit of reconciliation and ultimate justice. Because in asking forgiveness there is acknowledgement of a wrong, and mustn’t that wrong be righted for justice to be fulfilled.

Is justice situationally dependent, locationally contingent, culturally defined or is just the utterance of this supposition an injustice to the trafficked children, pimped out women, and the lowest castes the world around? Is justice bound – as I yank it back, am I decreasing the justice of another group? 

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. -MLK

If MLK’s words are universally true, the screams for social justice in America are heard transatlantically and affect the child brides of Africa. The fight pushes across borders; different strands of the same thick, heavy rope of justice. We should all care. There is some overarching judge, tying us together and holding us accountable. 

I think back to a day of evangelism earlier this year, where I blended in and no one aside from the pastor and few others knew I wasn’t Tanzanian, and the conversation veered to one about different Gods. And one of the young men spoke up in defiance and said, “Your God is only good to you.”  In essence, the Sovereign God, Jehovah is only good to believers because we believe so; to everyone else He is absent, unhelpful, unjust. Even my wholehearted attempt at righteousness was seen as an injustice by another. These situations and the processing of them is constant struggle cross culturally. Sometimes I cower and try to settle on neutrality as not to offend anyone, but the character of God is unchanged. People will refuse the Gospel, refuse God, but it doesn’t change the cornerstone on which justice is built. 

We, humankind, even our best laid, well intended plans have effects on other people which weren’t considered during conception. Our application of justice was flawed from the start, which is why as each generation experiences it’s awakening, we must look up to the One that reigns from the heavens to guide us as we continue to fight for justice for all.

Take a few minutes to read about Nehemiah’s Justice. Nehemiah 5:1-19.

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