What words do you associate with Justice?  Is it Courts, Punishment, Retribution?

Or is Justice more about fairness, opportunity, and dignity for all?  Of course it is both, but I am thinking about our responsibilities to others.

Human nature encourages the strong to exploit the weak.  This applies at individual, community, and international levels.  In the earliest times God, who created us,  gave a rule of Jubilee.  Every 50 years lands, slaves, and assets were restored to the families and communities who had originally owned them, and so  equality and dignity was restored to everyone.

About 600BC prophet Ezekiel (chapter 18) stressed that no one would be judged for the behaviour of their forbears nor their children, but only for their own actions.  I take comfort that we will not be judged for the exploitation and profiteering of previous British generations as they extended the empire, overpowered indigenous populations, and took slaves on every continent.

Ezekiel said a just person does not oppress or take advantage, and provides for those in need.  Later Jesus said He came to bring good news to the poor, freedom, vision, and release from oppression (Luke 4).  Unfortunately the divide between rich and poor, privileged and oppressed, is growing wider in recent times.

In Britain homelessness and child poverty are acute problems for millions, while the well-off get wealthier.  Western nations have reduced their support in countries where drought and hunger cause widespread starvation and deaths, while one third of all British food is thrown away.  A ‘hostile environment’ is apparently popular.

Justice requires action which is right and fair.  ‘To do nothing is to take sides’ is a fairly well known truth.  So what should we do ?

That depends on our circumstances. We can all lobby decision makers including MP’s, and support charities engaged in relief and development.  We can respond to people in our own neighbourhoods who are ‘falling through the net’.  People of faith will want to underpin action with prayer.

Alan Partridge

Fairplace Church