An Unequivocal Call to Justice

Justice: Week 1

An Unequivocal Call to Justice
Sunday, June 10, 2018

Throughout this year’s meditations we’re exploring how the divine image and dignity is inherent in every being. We have the freedom and honor of choosing to grow (or not) in our unique likeness of this image. Jesus is one clear example of this path, a visible incarnation of the union between human and divine, matter and spirit. He models inclusive, nondual, compassionate thinking and being.

Why then does Jesus tell stories that show harsh judgment, casting the rejected into “outer darkness” and “eternal punishment” (see Matthew 25:46)? This seems to undo all the mercy and forgiveness Jesus demonstrates in the rest of his life and teaching. Let me explain how I see it.

Clear-headed dualistic thinking must precede any further movement into nondual responses, especially about issues that people want to avoid. We cannot make a nonstop flight to nondual thinking or we just get fuzzy thinking. First use your well-trained and good mind, and then find your response in a holistic (body, mind, soul, and heart) response. This is the heart of spirituality.

Note that Jesus reserves his most damning and dualistic statements for matters of social justice where power is most resistant: “You cannot serve both God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24); “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24); or the clear dichotomy in Matthew 25 between sheep (who feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and visit the imprisoned) and goats (who don’t). The context is important. Jesus’ foundational and even dualistic bias is against false power and in favor of the powerless. If you do not make such points absolutely clear (and even if you do, as Jesus did), history shows that humans will almost always compromise on issues of justice, power, money, and inclusion.

Let’s bring it home: The United States always has all the money it needs for war, weapons, and bailing out banks, but never enough for good schools, low cost housing, universal health care, or welcoming refugees. Has this not become obvious? No wonder Jesus dared to be dualistic and dramatic first! He offers clear, contrasting statements about issues of ultimate significance and calls us to decide between them. His point is always transformation.

Unfortunately, Christians have managed to avoid most of what Jesus taught so unequivocally: nonviolence, sharing, simplicity, loving our enemies. Thankfully many Christians are returning to Jesus’ foundational messages and seeking to follow his example. They are not shying away from the embarrassments and evils of our churches, politics, and economy and the ways we each contribute to and are complicit in them. Over the next couple weeks, I will explore how we might embrace Jesus and the prophets’ calls to “do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with God” in this world (see Micah 6:8).

Image credit: Memorial Corridor at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice (detail), Montgomery, Alabama (800 six-feet-tall hanging steel monuments, one for each county where a lynching took place, with the names of the victims engraved on them).
Inspiration for this week’s banner image:
Our nation’s history of racial injustice casts a shadow across the American landscape. This shadow cannot be lifted until we shine the light of truth on the destructive violence that shaped our nation, traumatized people of color, and compromised our commitment to the rule of law and to equal justice. —Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director, The Equal Justice Initiative

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