Why did the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile occur? Why did so many die? What is the cause of all the violence in the world? Why are people homeless, why are they hungry, why are they suffering from diseases? Why, Why, Why, Why!
There is no answer that will satisfy our desire to know the root causes. All that we can say is that these problems exist. So often we cry out to God and ask “why” and implied in that question is a demand to fix the problem. But the problems continue. Do not see this as a sign of God’s abandonment of humanity. Do not see it as a sign that there is no God or that God is not capable of doing anything about anything. Rather, let us look at it from the other end of our usual lenses.
We turn to the Bible for wisdom about how to live our lives and deal with all that occurs. Evil enters the beauty of Creation from the choices of human beings. God gives us guidance to lead us back into lives of justice and righteousness over and over again. Find a good Concordance of all the words in the Bible and see how many times the word justice is used, count the number of times righteousness is used. “Seek justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God” (Micah) and “Let justice roll down like water and righteousness like an ever flowing stream” (Amos) to remind you of a couple of times that the word justice is used. Look at the life of Jesus and his words. Especially read the words from Isaiah he read as he began his ministry regarding sight to the blind, food to the hungry, and release to those held captive and also the words in Matthew about the separation of the sheep and the goats. The sheep did the will of God and cared for the most rejected and downtrodden people in the community and in doing so, cared for Jesus.
Why should we care about justice for strangers; because the Bible reminds us that once we were strangers. Why feed the hungry and care for the poor; because doing so demonstrates the love we have been shown in Jesus. Why risk our personal comfort zones for people who seek to do us ill; because we are challenged to do good to our enemies and to pray for them and not curse them. Our faith is NOT a faith concerned solely with achieving our eternal life in Heaven. God has already done the work. Jesus told us that we are to proclaim the acceptable year of God in the way we live and interact with all the other people who share this Creation with us.
Recently, talking heads in the media have pointed to Social Justice messages in the church as code words for anti-democratic desires. There may indeed be some people who use the words and concepts in the Bible for personal gain and power. It would not be the first time, and unfortunately, it will probably not be the last. However, as Christians, we are called to a life that seeks to heal the hearts, minds, bodies, and spirits of those all around us; a life that places God and the wisdom shared by Jesus to love ahead of any drive to divide God’s children.
No one of us can bring change to the entire world. God does not expect us to change all of Creation. We are to love and serve the people we can reach. Live each day with the daring to weigh each choice for justice and righteousness, for love and compassion, for forgiveness and grace. Then you will hear Jesus say, “When you did it for one of them, you did it for me”.