What is 'justice'?

Lately, I've just been talking about the 'saving change' part of It's Just Change during my No-Spend Month, but I'm still thinking plenty about the justice aspect of what I'm doing. This week, my friends and I started a discussion on the book Justice In the Burbs by Will and Lisa Samson.

The first point that came up generated a lot of discussion- what is "justice"?

Growing up, many of us related "justice" to things like the Judicial System and Criminal Justice. In church, when "love and justice" was spoken of, it was comparing the grace of God to the 'justice' of sending people to Hell. So, in that context, how do we understand Social Justice?

In the book, the Samsons explain justice as mercy, compassion, and fairness. When I've tried to explain why I care about social justice to friends in the past, and the term isn't in their vocabulary, I talk about justice as fairness. Someone pointed out in the discussion last night, 'fairness' can be taken many ways. If everyone begins at the same starting-line and works themselves to where they are today, the system is inherently fair & just, and nothing needs to be done. At the other end of the spectrum, at what standard of living is 'fair'? Should everyone own BMWs?

When using the book's definition- mercy, compassion, and fairness- these misconceptions aren't present. "Justice" is a desire for fairness flowing out of a love for others. This makes sense to us, because we see God's desire for this kind of justice through the story of His people. Over and over in the Old Testament, he tells His people to take care of the poor, widows, orphans and aliens among them. Jesus seemed to have a preference for those same marginalized people on his time on earth. The early church shared with each other to see that no one was needy.

Today, who are the "poor, widows, orphans and aliens" among us who need mercy, compassion, and fairness?


At the end of September, the authors of Justice In the Burbs, Will and Lisa Samson, will be doing a seminar at our church. I look forward to blogging about the book, and then meeting and interacting with the authors! Also, I've reviewed Will's book Enough at my other blog.

1 pennies for thoughts:

Anonymous said...

Joanna, this is good stuff. I look forward to reading the rest of your thoughts on Justice in the Burbs.

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