What does justice look like in society? It is an important question for Christians to ask because God demands that we “do justice, love kindness and walk humbly.” Followers of Christ are called to fight against oppression, injustice, ignorance, violence, poverty and any threat to human well-being. In Isaiah’s day the people were religious. They fasted and prayed. They worshipped and sacrificed to the Lord. In doing those things, they thought they were “in the right.” But God rejected their words and pious actions. Why? Because they failed to do what is just and righteous in their society. They ignored their responsibility to their neighbors. They looked away from human need.
Of course God desires our worship and praise. But even more than that, God requires that we minister to the needs of the poor, the outcast, the sick and suffering. It is not optional. The doing of justice in society as an act of faith is foundational. Christians must advocate for the poor, oppressed and voiceless. After all, we claim faith in, and follow in the way of, Jesus Christ who turned to the scroll of Isaiah (in Luke 4) and said to those gathered in his home synagogue in Nazareth, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because God has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, release to the captives, give sight to the blind and free the oppressed.”
Our faith compels us to leave the Bible study, prayer closet and the safety of the congregation and sanctuary and enter into the real world where people struggle against the powers of sin and death. In Jesus Christ, we have a leader and example who didn’t stay in his hometown’s sanctuary or with his own, but traversed the nation preaching, healing and teaching about God’s coming kingdom of justice, joy and peace. It would cost him his life in the city of Jerusalem. But God’s Word cannot be so easily defeated, ignored or silenced. He rose to new life and victory, commissioning his church - that’s us - to carry on God’s saving mission on earth.