Skinny Jeans & Injustice
In December I wore a dress everyday to advocate for the millions of people enslaved in human trafficking. It was good to daily think outside of myself and appreciate my freedom in a new way, but the novelty quickly wore off. I’m now intimately acquainted with the fragility of fleece-lined leggings against a Buffalo winter. But alongside freezing legs came increasingly persistent feelings of being inconvenienced, and the temptation to give up and pull on jeans was strong.
By the end of the month I was uncomfortable - disturbed, even - by the attitudes revealed in my heart. I had to reckon with my entitlement and privilege, and was convicted by my lackadaisical attitude towards justice.
While I whined about pulling on a dress a girl my age was being sexually exploited. In the midst of whining about the snow, a little boy was beginning a grueling day of forced labor. While I became bored with the fatty food and sugars of the holiday, children in Yemen were dying of starvation and Rohingya refugees were moving into the new year mourning the absence of their homes, family members and most everything they held dear.
This is what I realized: if it was “inconvenient” and frustrating to wear a dress for a month, how much do I actually care about justice? I’m genuinely empathetic, but does it end once there's a cost? Am I so pampered, so entitled that suffering is okay as long as I'm comfortable?
The persistence and intensity of these emotions made me realize God was prompting me to consider his heart for justice.
I studied Amos over the summer and was confronted by God's incredible mercy. But just as clear was God’s stance on injustice. The Israelites were accused of "trampling the heads" of the poor, denying justice to the oppressed, enslaving the "innocent," and idolatry - and their punishment was destruction.
“On the day I punish Israel for their sins...I will tear down the winter house, along with the summer house; the houses adorned with ivory will be destroyed and the mansions will be demolished, declares the Lord.” (Amos 3:14-15)
“The Sovereign LORD has sworn by his holiness: the time will surely come when you will be taken away with hooks, the last of you with fishhooks. You will each go straight out through breaches in the wall, and you will be cast out…” (Amos 4:2-3)
Timothy Keller writes in Generous Justice; “It is striking to see how often God is introduced as the defender of these vulnerable groups [the poor, widowed and immigrant]. Don’t miss the significance of this.”
What does this mean for me? I realized that justice is another way of saying we're to be “the salt and light of the earth;” (Matthew 5:14-16) - Christians are called to administer justice through generosity with our time, resources and money (which aren't ours anyway), to treat everyone equally, as unique and beloved creations, and, when the situation calls for it, publicly advocate for justice.
When his children follow in his footsteps, our 'big and small' acts of justice reveal that God's justice is more than legal, but restorative and actively social to demonstrate his unique, righteous nature to a world that desperately needs a Just Ruler.