I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about Eric Garner and his family. And of course, I couldn’t go back to sleep because another man, a son of God, is unnecessarily gone, another grand jury decided not to even pursue the possibility that excessive force was used…and another family is in grieving hell. So I prayed. I prayed some more. And then I thought, “Father, what are we supposed to do? What am I supposed to do?”
This is what I heard in my gut at 4:30 in the morning in a half-conscious state of mind: “Do justice.” It’s a direct quote from the 6th century BC Jewish prophet Micah. It’s as if God was saying “the time for talking is over. Strategies and meetings and blogs and rhetoric about justice are important but there has been plenty of that. Now is the time to do justice.”
Micah’s words in context are pointed and powerful. He spoke graphically to Jerusalem’s leaders about their abuse of the people:
“You rulers of Israel, is it not for you to know justice? You who hate good and love evil, who strip the very skin from My people and the flesh from their bones…” [Micah 3:1-2]
I don’t have much more to say but three final thoughts occur to me. First, Micah’s words remind me of a tragic piece of what I am seeing in our country. There are leaders who are called to be about justice for all people who instead are about justice for only “certain” people. These particular leaders seem willing to marginalize or ignore “other” people – and when challenged they rationalize over and over their reasons for allowing “the very skin to be stripped from their bones.” This kind of hypocritical injustice makes God angry and sick. If I’m about Him, it ought to make me angry and sick as well.
Second, I think God is asking me – more than ever before in my 60 years on the planet – to be aware of leaders who are unjust, of systems that are unjust, of situations where human beings are treated unjustly – and be willing to step into the unjust situation in His name and do something about the injustice – to do justice. I feel as if for years I have tried to be about justice – but I sense God is telling me that it’s time to step up my game. And as a follower of Jesus Christ who died for every human being, He is calling me to do this justice…no matter what the cost. Dietrich Bonheoffer, a WWII martyr at the unjust hands of Nazi Germany, said it best: “When God calls a man, He bids him come and die.”
Third, I’m not sure this word from God is just for me. I’m not trying to be arrogant or special and those who know me know that I hesitate to speak prophetically as if “I have a specific word from the Lord” for an individual or group. But last night in the middle of the night, I believe I received just that – a specific word from God intended not only for me – but for all who claim to worship Him and claim to follow His Son Jesus as Lord. My brothers and sisters, I’m calling you to see the injustice, passionately hate the injustice, step boldly into the injustice alongside those who are receiving the injustice…and in His name and because of His great love for each of us…do justice! No matter what the cost, do justice. Micah’s words weren’t just for 6th century BC Israel – they are for all time. They are for us. They are for now. Hear this: without us doing justice, there will be no justice. In this era, we are His plan to bring justice. He has no other. May the God of all justice give us grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.