Biblical Justice, Simple Enough for Us All
By Betsy Shorma
MONDAY - ANTICIPATION: On August 26th, simultaneously nervous and excited, I boarded a flight for Washington D.C. to meet up with numerous people from my online school, Veritas Scholars Academy. Later that night, around a white round table, Dean Williams asked the group how we define Biblical Justice. Some held to a firm definition while I sat there confused, but also hopeful that by the end of the week I would be able to confidently define Biblical Justice. And I was excited to learn alongside my fellow classmates.
TUESDAY - REVEALING: We began with a tour of International Justice Mission’s headquarters – the largest anti-slavery organization in the world. We specifically learned how they seek out people being taken advantage of across the seas. We participated in their daily corporate prayer - hearing other believer’s requests and praises never fails to encourage a Christian’s heart. Learning how IJM was helping to save people from bondage and plant gospel seeds all over the world left me feeling empowered. I walked out of the building feeling like Biblical Justice wasn’t as far off as I thought.
But just two hours later, my hopeful heart sank as I stepped into the dark halls of the Holocaust Museum. We spent over two hours walking the halls at our own pace. It was a small amount of time to grasp what took place just across the sea to millions of innocent people. We learn about so many historical and Biblical injustices in school. But to read stories of real people, to see their desperate faces, and their beaten and starved bodies makes it real. It’s no longer a story I’ve heard about with my mind, it’s a horrifying truth that stirs my heart and reveals how vastly God’s grace has sheltered me.
Something God showed me that day was how dangerous our minds are. As I was walking, I wondered what it would have been like to live in that time. Would I have helped the Jews, or would I have followed Hitler? I’d like to think I would have stood up for justice. But then I saw a video of thousands of people saluting and cheering for Hitler. My only thought was how dangerous our minds are. Please Lord, keep me in your will, fighting on the right side of justice, standing with you.
WEDNESDAY – QUESTIONING: We bussed over to Harbor Light, a drug rehabilitation center. We worked all morning on trimming bushes and trees on their grounds. King Solomon was right when he wrote in the Proverbs that there is profit in working. Shared work and shared laughter is a great connector. I won’t forget the memories we made, especially the ones involving the pickaxe.
After touring the Capitol building later that afternoon, we had the privilege of speaking with Jeff Pickering, an ERLC (Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission) representative. Someone in our group asked him how he would define Biblical Justice. He told us that before we can seek justice, we must learn the first commandment: Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thy Heart, Soul, and Mind. After that, justice begins with our neighbor. I wondered if Biblical Justice might not just mean rescuing someone. Could it really be as easy as loving your neighbor?
THURSDAY - TENDERNESS: The next morning we went to a Salvation Army Church in D.C. The church was a fair size but visibly old. It had a walkway with old gray carpet, and a musty scent filled my nose as I walked into the gym and saw the bright hand-painted verses covering the walls. The sanctuary had old-fashioned red-cushioned pews and an old but faithful brown stained wood piano. The whole group worked together to pack paper lunch bags in the dining area on brown folding tables.
Later that day, we handed out the lunches to homeless people surviving on the streets of D.C. A man named Moses received the lunch I offered with one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen. Our eyes met and our hearts connected. He was missing teeth, his tan skin was weathered and his gray hair told me he’s more than 60 years old. I noticed his brown shirt was torn and his feet bare. He may not remember me, but I won’t forget those brown eyes that shined right into my heart. My life is so different from Moses’ life, yet we shared smiles and conversed, small talk that changed my perspective. I remembered what Jeff had said, Biblical Justice is loving your neighbor. Packing and passing out the lunches wasn’t a hard task, it was actually quite easy, especially when I realized how something so little impacted Moses, my neighbor, so greatly. And this easy thing led to our whole group being able to practice loving our neighbor and seeking out the poor of this world.
We ended the day at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Our tour guide, Adam, told us to walk around and choose a favorite quote among the numerous ones written on the gray stone walls. Then before I knew it, we found ourselves around that same white round table, but this time as a closer-knit group. Miss Williams proposed a second question. (Well, let’s be honest, it was probably her thousandth question, she tends to ask us a lot.) When she asked if our definition of Biblical Justice had changed, I felt somewhat disappointed. I still felt like I didn’t truly know what Biblical Justice meant or how to pursue it. After a week of studying, learning, and carrying out justice, I would think I’d have a solid definition. But as my friends shared their thoughts, I realized that Biblical Justice requires love and mercy. When the Lord Jesus gave his life for you and me, he suffered the punishment we deserved, showing us the ultimate example of Biblical Justice. We are made in God’s image, and that’s why just like me, you have probably felt compelled to right society’s wrongs, or maybe your own. Biblical Justice is bringing Social Justice into the realm of God’s love and mercy. And that echoes exactly what Jeff told us about loving your neighbor. Jesus Christ died for us because he loved us, we should be seeking Biblical Justice because of our love for the Lord and our neighbors.
FRIDAY – SO LONG: We spent the last morning touring together. We shared such sweet laughs and meaningful conversations before parting ways. I never did get my word-perfect definition that week. But what I got was so much better. I made new friendships, strengthened past ones, and toured all over our nation’s capital. Most importantly, the Lord taught me that serving Him is simple. He’s not looking for an amazing person, grand church building, or an extravagant organization. Matthew 5:5 says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” If you have a humble heart, then God will use you to reach the world. But remember that serving Him and pursuing Biblical Justice looks different for all of us. I saw God working through the Captain and his wife in that old church building, through Jeff’s faithful words to us, and the employees of IJM praying and working together. We’re all made in his image but that doesn’t mean our service to God looks the same. But I can confidently tell you that what Jeff said that day was true, Biblical Justice starts with loving God and then your neighbor. Just look to the cross, that’s what Jesus did when he loved us and obeyed his father. So, me too. I will look to the cross.
Remember how Adam told us to pick a favorite quote that last night? Well after five days of learning and seeing so much injustice and not knowing what to think or do, reading these words from MLK encouraged my heart, “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” We will never stop seeing injustice and we won’t always know how to respond. But the Lord is true and just, we are simply to love Him, to love mercy and truth, and to love our neighbor.
You’ll find Betsy making coffees as a barista, working in her Church Bus Ministry, or spending time with her wonderful family and friends all in Fargo, North Dakota. She is a Senior at Veritas and serves as the 2019/2020 Student Body President.
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