|The cry for justice in current culture is growing louder, even as it becomes more and more apparent that the cultural institutions and the people who comprise them are incapable of producing the goodness and justice that our souls long for. The temptation is to give in to cynicism and even despair under the pressure of failed attempts to produce justice, but that pressure can actually steer our souls toward hope, if we will allow it.
That hope comes from the fact that there is One whose Kingdom is built on righteousness and justice, which are declared to be the foundations of His throne (Psalm 89:14). These two terms – righteousness and justice – are central promises of the Kingdom of God that will be established when Jesus returns to earth as the King of all kings. The promise of Isaiah 42:1-4 is that He will establish justice to the ends of the earth, and that nothing will deter Him in this quest. Our longing for goodness and justice will be satisfied, fully, when He returns.
What do these terms actually mean? Are they merely religious words that have little meaning for us, or can we understand them as the powerful promises they are? In my own study and meditation, I’ve come to the conclusion that righteousness means the perfect alignment and conformity of all things to the design that was in God’s mind when He created everything. To be “righteous” means to live fully in the perfection of God’s design for my life. Therefore, a Kingdom of righteousness (Matthew 6:33) will be the context in which every individual and every institution will live and operate in perfect alignment with the design and will of God. Because of Jesus, we will be everything we were created to be.
Justice, then, is the process of bringing all things, people and institutions, into that perfect alignment. When justice is established, all individuals and entities will relate and operate in perfect coordination and unity. What’s more, for those who live by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, this will not be a coerced reality, externally enforced. Rather, there will be the complete internal transformation into the image of Jesus, where every individual will freely choose to live in perfect alignment with God’s design and purpose. “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness” (Psalm 17:15).
The impact of these truths is astonishing – we do not have to opt for a cynical, despairing outlook in response to our longing for goodness and justice. Those realities are surely coming to the earth. Goodness, righteousness, and justice will be the way of things. The wrongs will be made right, and evil will be done away. Jesus is surely coming!
And, importantly, we do not have to wait until that blessed day to begin to live like that. We can begin, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to seek after righteousness and justice in our own context. We can tune in to the Father’s voice, and receive His perspective on ourselves, on other people, and on situations. We are not forced to choose between objectionable extremes; rather, we can receive understanding from heaven, and wisdom in how to apply that understanding. The Kingdom is here now, through believers, even as we wait for the fullness when Jesus returns.
Let the longing for goodness and justice increase! Let our voices be raised in worship and intercession, calling for the Lord’s return, even as we extend our hands to work for righteousness and justice now.
The Prophet Amos said “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:4). It’s one of our deepest longings, and it will surely come.