When sin entered the world, brokenness marked everything—including us. Because of this, injustices began to occur. From the time of Genesis 3 onward, we have seen this in every generation and individual. Injustices continue to happen throughout our world today, in this very moment. From human trafficking, to women being abused or looked down on solely because they are female, to judging someone based on the color of their skin, it is all an attempt to remove the image of God and the dignity that every human deserves. In the same way God does not turn a blind eye to evil, we must not look away from the evils of injustice.
In our world today, more than 40 million men, women, and children are sold into forced labor or prostitution. One in four of these people are children. Human trafficking as an industry profits about 150 billion dollars a year. Throughout the world, about 4 billion people live outside the protection of the law. Every year, around 5 million people have their land or homes illegally stolen from them by the powerful and wealthy.
Around 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual violence. “Gender inequality is a major cause and effect of hunger and poverty: it is estimated that 60 percent of chronically hungry people are women and girls.”
Barna research shows that “the vast majority of adults agree there is a lot of anger and hostility between ethnic and racial groups in America (84 percent).” Clearly, we have some work to do in this area. “Despite these divides, three-quarters of Americans agree ‘Christian churches play an important role in racial reconciliation’ (73 percent).” “An overwhelming 98 percent of pastors believe churches play an important role in racial reconciliation, yet only half say racial reconciliation is among their own church’s top 10 priorities.” Why such a disconnect?
The statistics listed above are just scratching the surface when it comes to injustices committed around the world. The thought of the injustices, the trauma, the lives taken or people negatively impacted forever, the generational impact, the lack of respect for God-given dignity—it’s all horrific. It’s hard to make sense of it all because it is senseless. It is evil and filled with darkness. When we feel defeated, believing things will never change or that our efforts are in vain, we must remember the truth of God—Jesus is the light of the world and He has overcome (John 8:12; 16:33). Justice in Jesus ultimately wins, and as we work to do justice in our communities, we can look to our hope as our ultimate destination.
As followers of Christ, we have the light of the world within us. Therefore, we must focus on the light rather than the darkness and push back the darkness of injustice with the light of Jesus. Because any form of injustice is inherently evil, it is easy to focus on the immense amount of darkness and become overwhelmed by it all. To have hope, to continue to fight for the image of God to be valued in every human, we must remember that Jesus has the ultimate victory over sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:55–57). Eventually, Jesus will return and make all things wrong, right. He will restore shalom—peace, wellness, and wholeness.
No more death, mourning, suffering, or injustices committed. He will prevail over the darkness. Until Jesus’ return, we live in the tension between longing for the day He will bring a forever end to evil and injustice, and fighting for God’s kingdom and restoration to be done on earth as it is in heaven today.
As Jesus was beginning His ministry, He quoted the prophet Isaiah (61:1) proclaiming the gospel and his mission on earth: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners” (Luke 4:18 NIV). As we will see throughout this study, most of Jesus’ ministry focused on the marginalized and poor of society. Those who were the victims of injustices. Let’s join Him in this mission.