I had lunch on Friday with my friend Pam. We’ve been friends since 8th grade, and together came to faith in Christ just as the Jesus Movement wave crested and began to recede. Our oldest children were born just a week apart. Our now-antique cats, Mike and Phyllis, came from a couple of litters of kittens born at Pam’s house.
Pam has been an educator for all of her adult life, and I’ve always admired the sandpaper way she would put her hands on her hips and ask her administrators why they were doing what they were doing, and then come up with an innovative, red-tape free way to actually help her kids. She has always been the voice for her students, though her forthright manner hasn’t always endeared her to the powers-that-be. She’s remained remarkably unmotivated by a need for approval by those in authority over her, and at one point, even volunteered to take a pay cut in order to keep an educational program in place for another year because she knew it had life-changing potential for her students.
So you know what happened next, don’t you? After many years teaaching at this school, the program was cut. And so was Pam.
“Justice” is a word swirling (at last) through the evangelical community in recent years. When Pam and I first began following Jesus, the word was either shaded with informational images of God sitting behind a judge’s bench, declaring us “not guilty” due to the finished work of Christ, weighing deeds – or of those from more liberal, social action churches participating in C.R.O.P. walks or joining the Peace Corps. Now we evangelical/charismatic members of the Body of Christ are starting to realize that justice isn’t just a descriptor of a theological truth or the domain of them thar lib’rals, but our birthright as members of the kingdom-revolution.
A few years ago, I read (somewhere, can’t remember where) that the anger in us is wired to the beautiful and just character of God. When we encounter unrighteousness, something rises up in us that says, “NO!” That “NO!” is there to direct us toward God in order to cry out for justice, and to drive us to live the Micah mandate: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (6:8). Anger can scorch everything it touches – or it can fuel a life that loves justice, mercy and humility.
A life like Pam’s.