- Does your city feel like Heaven?
Last year, my family and I took a cross-country, month-long road trip to different cities where I was teaching and preaching in churches about practical steps toward biblical justice. When we got home, my daughter, Mary, asked me if I ever just wanted to give up.
“Aren’t you preaching, teaching, and writing about the same inequality and imbalances in our culture that Dr. King and so many others have talked about for generations?” Mary’s eyes filled with tears as she wrestled with her desire to see the world whole and healed.
I wiped a tear from her cheek. “Immanuel, God is with us, my love. On the good days and the hard days. He is always with us. We are joining Jesus in His plan to establish the Kingdom of God on Earth as it is in Heaven. It’s His plan, not ours. We get to do our small part.”
The ensuing discussion with Max and Mary, my two oldest kids, gripped my heart and gave me hope. I could tell they wanted to do something. Use their voice. Make a difference in this world.
But I could also sense the uncertainty of trying to do their part in conversations that have been ongoing for generations about racial and economic inequality.
I think we have all felt like Max and Mary.
Psalm 119:105 (NLT) reminds us that,
God’s Word is a lamp to guide our feet and a light for our path.
We can feel the temptation to quit when we begin to explore matters related to complex and deeply embedded behaviors and policies in our culture. Exasperated, we feel the urge to back down because we can’t see the outcome. The promise of healing and wholeness in our world found in Revelation 21:4 — no more hurting, pain, tears, etc. — seems unattainable and aspirational.
However, we were never promised floodlights to illuminate the entire path from injustice to justice. We were promised a lamp. Instead of giving us the complete plan, God promises that His Word will give us just enough light to take one or two sure steps at a time. His light gives us confidence to take the next right step.
These steps can include:
- Praying the Lord’s prayer every day (Matthew 6:9-13). Ask God to establish His Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. Make it a daily request and watch how your heart becomes more aware of ways that you can take another step toward justice.
- Get to know the God of justice. The Poverty and Justice Bible highlights every reference to poverty and justice in the Scriptures. Simply flipping through the pages and seeing the pre-highlighted yellow markings throughout the pages is enough to reframe our understanding of God’s heart for healing our culture.
- Follow your curiosity. Ask yourself questions like, “Why do inequalities and imbalances in our world exist?” Courageously explore as your preconceived ideas are challenged.
- Become familiar with great authors like Jemar Tisby, LaTasha Morrison, Esau McCaulley, Dominique DuBois Gilliard, Cheryl Bridges-Johns, Howard Thurman, Dante Stewart, Mark Charles, Kristin Du Mez, Soong-Chan Rah, Walter Brueggemann, Makoto Fujimara, and Mark DeYmaz. Follow the footnotes of their books to see who God used to shape their spiritual journey.
What is the next right step on the path toward healing in your community? The only person that can answer that question is you. If you happen to feel discouraged or overwhelmed, you have joined the company of every person that has faithfully traveled the path of justice.
As you pray, read the Word, follow your curiosity, and become familiar with wise and faithful authors, the Holy Spirit will lead and guide you to understanding your context. Your personal development, socioeconomic status, cultural background, the community you’re in, the gifts God has given you, and the needs of those around you will inform your specific path toward establishing the Kingdom of God in your city. Some may need to embrace a season of pausing long enough to learn and grow. Others may need to find the courage to take the next step toward action in your church or community. Max and Mary are in a season of learning and growing. My wife, Dara, and I are in a season of preaching, teaching, and advocacy.
If we are all taking steps toward justice guided by lamplight, I believe one day we’ll look up to the illuminated reality of justice and equity — on earth as it is in Heaven. Until then, we just have to take it one guided step at a time.
What is your next step on the path toward justice?
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Written for Faithgateway by Dr. David Docusen, author of Neighborliness.
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God is the God of justice. Micah 6:8 says, “He has told you, o man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Come share your thoughts on establishing the Kingdom of God in your city. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily