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Doing Justice to Justice

by Bishop Todd Hunter

Why do we have such a hard time “doing justice to justice”? Why is violence so often the wrongheaded means to peace? Why is righteousness often far from those who talk about justice?

I heard one persuasive answer from my mentor, Dallas Willard: Without Jesus as teacher and guide, we can’t do justice to justice. Jesus is both the vision—the end to which we strive, and the way we struggle for justice and peace.

The big idea is Peace by Christlike means. This is not wimpy moderation, it is confidence in the reality that Jesus is humanity, Israel and the church as God intended. Not just in what he said and did, but the way he carried himself. There is a strong and compelling ethic in the way Jesus faced the issues of his life, especially his brutal last days. For Christians, that ethic must accompany any sort of advocacy.

When religiously motivated efforts toward justice are co-opted by social ethics defined and framed by politicians or social psychologists, or pundits, something vast and eternal is lost.

Peace must be sought by peaceful means. Lesslie Newbigin agrees in these memorable words:

When the Church tries to embody the rule of God in the forms of earthly power it may achieve that power, but it is no longer a sign of the kingdom.

It is possible to seek to become a different person and to have a different community or nation or world without any reference to Jesus at all. Multiple millions of people choose that route. Followers of Jesus choose him. The choice to follow Jesus renovates one’s heart and makes one a participant in the renovation of the world.

Trusting the real person of Jesus is the only reliable way to pursue inward transformation and civic healing. Jesus must be the center. You can’t have students without a teacher—everything rests on the Teacher.

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