A very familiar passage is found in Micah:
What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8 ESV)
Since I’m planning to participate in two upcoming synchroblogs that deal with justice, I’ve been thinking about justice and injustice. A conversation that I had last weekend triggered even more thoughts about injustice.
A friend of mine is a vegetarian. Every time the topic is brought up, she would say that she would love to explain why she is a vegetarian sometime, but the time never came up… until this weekend. She explained that she was a vegetarian because of her concerns about injustice – particularly, concerns about the treatment of animals. She made it clear that this was something that she wast struggling with herself, and she was not making a blanket statement that eating meat was bad. In fact, she said that once she had settled the issue in her mind, and once she was convinced that she was consciously thinking about the source of the meat, she would probably begin eating meat again. However, for now, she has decided not to eat meat so that she would not perpetuate any animal cruelty that may be involved.
Recently, I had a conversation with another friend who is very concerned about human trafficking. She is helping to start a student group on campus whose goal is to educate people about trafficking around the world. Again, I have been affected by her passion to reduce injustice.
I appreciate their concerns about injustice, which has helped me further my own thinking about injustice. We know that there is injustice in the world. And, we know that many times oppression, forced labor, child labor, etc. is used to produce many of the products that we use from day to day. To be honest, I am not ready to give up those products, but my friend’s decision to give up meat has caused me to begin thinking through many buying decisions. I am beginning to recognize more and more that the products that I choose to buy or not buy may tend to perpetuate injustice or perhaps even encourage justice. Previously, most of my buying decision have been based on economics. I would buy the most economical product.
I was raised with the Republican-Christian mindset that economics and religion should be connected. Certainly, there is a grain of truth in that statement. My relationship with God will affect the way that I use money. However, my relationship with God is not necessarily connected to a positive or negative national economy, nor to my own accumulation of wealth. It seems that for many – and I would include myself in this group, though perhaps this is changing – the accumulation of personal and national wealth has become a spiritual gauge.
On the other hand, my relationship with God should definitely affect my relationship with other people and the way that I view people. God’s love cannot coexist with the unjust treatment of people. Thus, as God expresses his love more and more through me, I should expect to become more and more concerned with justice and injustice. I wish that I could say that I currently “do justice” in all of my decisions and actions. But, I can’t say that. However, I continue to see God moving my heart in that direction.