ODJ: Freed for Justice

April 30, 2018 

READ: Romans 5:1-5, 6:13-18 

Use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God (6:13).

I once heard Ken Wytsma, founder of the Justice Conference, comment on the surprising scepticism many have about whether justice is central to the gospel. He reflected ironically, “The gospel is that unjust people are reconciled to a just God to be a just people . . . but justice isn’t related to the gospel?”

Justice is central to the heart of God—the One who “gives justice to the oppressed”, “lifts up those who are weighed down”, “protects the foreigners” and “cares for the orphans and widows” (Psalm 146:7-9).

In an unjust world, it’s often easier to say we love our neighbours than to seek justice for them—which may involve resisting powerful forces and often comes at a high cost. But if our fears prevent us from seeking justice for others, we aren’t walking in the freedom and joy that is ours in Jesus. As Paul reminds us in Romans 5, those who “confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory” (v.2) should see suffering as an opportunity to grow into people of endurance and character (vv.3-5).

When we live in fear of what others might say or do if we stand up for what’s right, in effect we’re still living in bondage. As Paul put it starkly, we have two choices: “You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living” (6:16).

It’s when we fearlessly “use [our] whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God” (v.13)—led and strengthened by Him—that we show we’re truly walking in the joy and “freedom of [His] grace” (v.14).

Today, as Nelson Mandela—fearless opponent of apartheid in South Africa—once put it, “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”

—Monica Brands

365-day plan: Nehemiah 5:1-19

Read 1 John 3:16-18 and reflect on what it means to be willing to lay down our lives for others. 
What injustices are you aware of in your church or community? What steps can you take to be a part of witnessing to and working towards God’s justice?