Two hundred schoolgirls kidnapped. How does that happen in this day and age of human rights and technology and unprecedented wealth?
We can pardon our ignorance for forgetting that those nouns describe us in the West. We have been busily caught up in the drive to preserve our animals’ freedoms, ensure drug addicts can continue their self-destruction in a safe manner, keep silent while thousands of unborn fetal hearts are forced to stop beating, provide venues for sports fanatics to riot when their drug-enhanced teams fail to produce results, and other very Western excesses. Our insular mindset has prevented us from remembering that not everyone on this green and blue planet has access to basic human rights we take for granted. Put that way, perhaps we can even pardon the kidnapping Boko Haram militants in Nigeria for their dis-ease with anything Western. If we are willing to pardon our own disoriented mindset oughtn’t we also be willing to pardon theirs? It’s a problem, isn’t it?
Listen to this: “See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice. Each man will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.” That is Isaiah, God’s mouthpiece of twenty-eight centuries ago. He goes on: “Justice will dwell in the desert and righteousness live in the fertile field. The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.” (Isa. 32:1,2,16,17)
We desperately need justice, don’t we? But we cannot have justice without something Isaiah calls righteousness. That’s a blatantly religious word we’d rather not entertain, isn’t it? But it is integral to the discussion on justice. It’s something the leaders of the Boko Haram and we have failed to consider in our thoughts on justice. We can include the Boko Haram, because they, like we, want a sort of justice. They want what they see as their rights realized, and they’re willing to put lives on the line to get it. Unfortunately for more than two hundred girls it’s their lives that are being risked.
We desperately hope it will all turn out right. We want those girls safely returned to their homes, their families, their schooling and their plans for a happy future.
But something much deeper is going on here, something integral to each of our lives. Did you notice how Isaiah begins his comments? He calls us to see, “A king will reign in righteousness”. He’s not talking about Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, American President Barak Obama, or Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. There is only one king that could ever reign in righteousness: Jesus Christ. He is the cornerstone, core, heart, thrust, and essence of justice. His work of righteousness on earth, culminating in His death, burial and resurrection has given us on this planet-gone-wild the one hope we need to get back on the right side of justice. It has invited us to be partakers in something far bigger than we could manage on our own. It has made us, in the very core of our souls, right with God. The name ‘Christian’ is the external label reserved for those who have willingly accepted a new identity in Jesus, Lord of their lives. It is from that internal transformation that Christ propels His followers to get involved in justice with renewed vigour. Injustices around the world will prevail until we allow the righteousness of Jesus to transform our hearts and wills from within.
Isaiah observes the constructs of civilization becoming a moral wasteland, “till the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the desert becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field seems like a forest.”
Are we ready to allow the Spirit of God to be poured out upon us, to embrace the resulting changes He will do in our hearts and minds? Will we release the desert of disinterest in justice to a springtime of fertile action? The forest of lush harvest that follows when we, each and every one of us, make justice our cause is a promise of God.
Pray with me, “God reign your righteousness in me, that I may step up to the call of justice in this world.”
(Photo Credit: hdptcar, Wikimedia Commons)