At Work & Public Square

Practicing Justice: A Legacy of Christian Faith in the Workplace

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I sat in a busy restaurant with a good friend. As we began talking, I told him I was troubled by recent global news and how the problem was impacting people, some people we both knew personally.

After my friend listened carefully, he responded, “That is why I don’t listen to the news. At any given point it feels like life as we know it could end, like the world is always on the edge of chaos.”

But, as Christians, we cannot hide, or leave the world on its own and hope everything turns out okay. Part of our mission in the world is to be agents of justice.

I have been exploring the ancient rhythms of work inherited from centuries of Christians living out their faith in the workplace. In previous weeks I explored the first two of five ancient rhythms, personal purpose and stewardship.

Today I will discuss justice.

Defining Justice

Justice for Christians should be broadly defined as impartial actions taken personally and within our communities as an attempt to make the world as God intended it – whole or peaceful.

Biblically, the word “peace” connotes knitting something together, making it whole. There are two ways justice manifests itself in the life of the Christian:

  • The first is a concern for personal justice, intentionally acting in ways that hold yourself accountable to higher standards and attempt to make yourself whole.
  • The second is a concern for community justice (global or local), where we intentionally act in ways to make the world around us whole.

Research I’ve conducted with Dr. David Miller at Princeton University’s Faith and Work Initiative indicates most people are passionate about personal justice, but struggle when they think about how justice plays itself out in a community.

Why is difficult to think about how justice manifests itself?

Practicing Justice

Deciding to act  locally or globally to bring justice involves risk. When we decide to care for those who cannot care for themselves, stand up and say “no” to violence, promote recycling, or blow the whistle on secret organizational impropriety, we make our own lives more difficult.

So why act?

Because as Christians we want to suffer with Christ – period. We want to care about the things Christ is caring about.

As a child I was sick a lot. Every time I got sick, my mother was pained, and would lean down and whisper, “Timothy, if I could take this illness from you, I would.”  I was always moved, but never really understood what she meant until I had children of my own.

Then at the age of six my son broke his arm. We were miles and miles away from help. Those words from my mom came back to me in a rush of thought, and I found myself speaking those same words to my son.

When we give ourselves to heal the world, we begin to understand fully the nature of Christ’s sacrificial giving. Christ gave himself to save the world, to make it whole again.

When we remember the widow and orphan (Deuteronomy 10:18), reach out to the poor (Galatians 2:10), seek honesty in our business transactions (Deuteronomy 25:15), or are kind to the environment (Deuteronomy 20:19) we are never closer to understanding the way in which Christ loves us and the world.

If you feel challenged at times in finding the love of God for yourself, here is the secret way to find the height and depth of God’s love. Go out and knit the world together, and while you are working with the brokenness of the world, listen and you will hear Jesus softly say, “Now you understand my love for you, I am willing to take your suffering into myself, I love you that much.”

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