"Blessed are those who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times." Psalm 106:3
Justice. It's on my mind. The idea of Justice - what is it? how does it look? What does it mean to live justly with a Biblical view? How does one reconcile the tension between love and justice? These may all seem like ridiculous no-brainer questions. But for me, these questions were and are serious. They're ones I've thought about frequently.
Around January 2014, after reading a certain book, this dialogue regarding justice started to take form - an internal searching dialogue as well as one with a friend. The book, while I did not like it (overall), it did put the dialogue into motion. For me, I needed to hear a balance between the talk regarding justice and the clear talk regarding responsibility and obedience to God's commands. I wasn't hearing that balance. Not hearing the balance was troublesome, for me. I did not have a good grasp on what it practically and actually means to live justly...do justice.
Since January 2014, God has used the book to propel conversation, and since November 2014 the idea of putting justice into action (to live justly) gradually became more important to me. During May, I read a fabulous book, Overrated by Eugene Cho, that gave me the balance I was needing - the balance of justice along with the responsibility and obedience to God. Prior to reading Overrated, the opportunity to attend The Justice Conference in Chicago landed on my doorstep. I took the opportunity. I didn't expect much from the Conference except to hopefully gain a better handle on love and Justice - how to live life justly. I wasn't looking to become an activist. I was longing to understand the Biblical view of justice and how it practically looks. I was nervous about attending. I was glad I read Overrated because it put me at ease about what it means to live justly...to pursue justice. The book put me at ease about attending the conference.
The above is the backdrop to my experience of The Justice Conference. The following is the experience.
"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." -Micah 6:8
"Totally excited to see how God is going to grow me and teach me through this Justice conference and the Refugee Justice activism track this weekend."
I had no idea how much God would use the Justice conference to teach and grow me!
The two day conference was packed with the refugee activism track, powerful and interesting speakers, awesome worship music and fellowship. While I didn't agree with all the approaches or discussions, I was impacted in some way or another by every conversation, experience, speaker, and topic as well as by the music. I know that God was in our presence and His hand was guiding our time. I know that even in disagreement that we are all brothers and sisters in the Lord. And He is our driving force to live justly...to do justice.
The Bible doesn’t say, "Seek justice, love mercy and … seek justice." It’s "walk humbly." We must remain humble. -Eugene Cho
Cornel West was the conference's opening speaker on Friday night. Crowder was our night's music. Amazing stuff.
The Justice Conference Film Festival was part of the weekend, we did not purchase tickets for the festival. But, we were lucky enough to snag free tickets to the premiere of Captive. It was a pretty darn good movie. Not as deep as I would have hoped, but it was powerful enough that I think it will encourage conversations regarding several topics of justice. I hope the movie does well when it is released this coming September. (the photos above feature my Friday conference buddies - Jody and Becky. And the food, Chick-fil-A was my diet for the weekend)
Saturday was a crazy packed day. By the time the day ended, I was very exhausted, in a good way.
The four speakers in the photo above were my Saturday highlights.
"Justice matters because justice must be apart of our worship of God." "everybody loves justice until there’s a cost." - Eugene Cho (top left)
"We will be known for our opinions but we will be remembered for our love." and he also said something like...I don't want to block anyone's view of Jesus. -Bob Goff (top right)
"Learn to let your ears carry the weight of the conversation." He also said that there are virtues we need to nurture - bravery, humility, empathy, diversity. He explained what is involved in these virtues. - Jonathan Meritt (bottom right)
Christ made peace with me when he died on the cross. I am at peace with Christ so I now can be a peacemaker. - Louie Giglio (bottom left)
The quotes by those four men were just tips of the iceberg for their sessions. There is so much more I took away. Almost overwhelming. Definitely convicting.
God used the Justice conference to teach and grow me in big and subtle ways. Its hard to quantify; I don't think I can. It's not huge external results that others can see, not yet anyway. Rather, it's internally in my mind, heart and soul where I know growth has happened and knowledge has been gained.
I don't see myself as an activist. I don't see myself becoming involved in activist type organizations. But if I did, helping refugees is something that spoke to my heart. While refugees speak to my heart, I am thinking that maybe God has been shaping me for an advocacy role of some sort that would help those with special needs, disabilities and their families. Ultimately though, I don't have to be apart of an organization, or doing something "big" in order to do justice. This justice stuff starts at home, it starts with me, it starts with me being right with Jesus...living life following Him. It starts with me loving others, and being available and open to a life of interruptions. It starts with having conversations, the right conversations in the right place at the right time. It starts with me seeking to understand instead of seeking to be understood. It starts with listening. It starts with seeing my neighbor.
"Justice always has to be rooted deeper than itself." - Dr. Cornel West
"We need to live justly everyday and in the mundane." - Eugene Cho