“This is what the LORD Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.” (Zechariah 7:9 NIV)

Merriam-Webster Dictionary announced recently that their “2018 Word of the Year” is “justice.” A bit ironic, of course, given how often we have seen justice both delayed and denied over the past 12 months.

But it is also, perhaps, very fitting that people have felt the need to reacquaint themselves with the meaning of the term.

As Merriam-Webster put it on their website, “The concept of justice was at the center of many of our national debates in the past year: racial justice, social justice, criminal justice, economic justice. In any conversation about these topics, the question of just what exactly we mean when we use the term justice is relevant, and part of the discussion.”

I would agree. Is justice simply equity and compassion for “just us,” as Dr. Marvin McMickle talked about at our annual Summit in October, or do we acknowledge a deeper and broader meaning of the term? A meaning that challenges us to extend the mental boundaries that we may have established around who is deserving of our efforts to “seek justice.”

I think that Jesus’ affirmation of God’s will for us in Matthew 22:36-39 is helpful here: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” And every human being, he goes on to illustrate, is our neighbor. Therefore, we are called to seek justice for them, no matter how different they are from us.

This can be hard sometimes, because let’s face it, the differences (and our preferences for or against them) can distract us. But this is one of the reasons why the work of the Holy Spirit within us is so important! It is the Spirit who matures us and empowers us to see and love the “other” as our neighbor: another person crafted in the imago Dei and wholly beloved of God.

As we begin a new year, let’s commit (or recommit) ourselves to seeing every “other” as ourselves and seeking justice on their behalf.

Grace and peace,

Phaedra

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