Striving for Justice

Justice is a theme that can be followed throughout the Bible, mentioned hundreds of times. It is not only relevant to the people of those times, but to our world today in a huge way. If you watch the news or read the paper and see what is happening all around us every day, you see so many injustices, big and small. For me I find it is so easy to shut my mind to this and say that it isn’t relevant to me, that it is all happening so far away and that I can’t help anyway so why should I get all down about all of the awful things happening? Although it may be easier to live this way, I have come to realise that this is not the way to approach our world, this is not what God is calling me to.Scales-of-Justice_iStock_Feature

Let’s talk about Biblical justice. The Hebrew word for justice, ‘mishpat’, occurs around 400 times in the Bible. It means to treat people with equality and give to each what he is due. It relates, therefore, not just to punishment but to reward and care. ‘Mishpat’ refers to these things regardless of a person’s gender, race or standing in society and it is interesting to see that these things are not yet realised in society today – we do not have a world in which justice is a reality. We cannot expect to live in a perfect world because through sin and disobedience we have allowed evil into our world which will not be made perfect until the second coming of Our Lord, Jesus, when justice will be brought for all by our Judge and Creator. Despite knowing that our world cannot be made perfect in its fallen state, God calls us to strive for justice in our own live, in our relationships and for all people around the world.

In Amos 21-24, we are told:

The Lord says, “I hate your religious festivals; I cannot stand them! When you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; I will not accept the animals you have fattened to bring me as offerings. Stop your noisy songs; I do not want to listen to your harps. Instead, let justice flow like a stream, and righteousness like a river that never goes dry.

And in Matthew 23:23 Jesus speaks up about justice, saying:

 “How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You give to God one tenth even of the seasoning herbs, such as mint, dill, and cumin, but you neglect to obey the really important teachings of the Law, such as justice and mercy and honesty. These you should practice, without neglecting the others.”

And so it is clear that God demands justice from his people, and we should be concerned for the vulnerable. Even more so, God asks for justice from us because He is introduced throughout the Old Testament as the defended of the downtrodden and God of Justice.

 And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for he is a God of Justice. Psalm 50:6

For justice to be used in the very title and introduction of God it must be a pretty big deal. We model ourselves on and strive to become more like Our God who cares deeply for the vulnerable of our society, and so we must strive to do so also.

One particular injustice which my eyes have recently been opened to is that of human trafficking and modern day slavery. Did you know that right now, there are somewhere between 21 and 30 million slaves in the world? That is around 1 in every 243 people alive on earth (Global Slavery Index 2012). You may think that slavery is a thing of the past, that only happened many years ago on American plantations but today, there are more slaves than there have been at any other time in history. Human trafficking is defined as the recruitment, transport and receipt of persons by means of threat, force or coercion to be exploited by another person. This exploitation can take the form of sex slavery, forced labour and removal of organs.download Discovering this shocked and horrified me, to think that so many of God’s precious children have been taken from their homes and exploited, being forced to work for the gain of another in terrible conditions. And to think that had I been less fortunate than I am, had I been born in a different part of the world, then this could have easily been me. I was further disturbed to discover that New Zealand is not exempt for this, in fact despite slavery being illegal in majority of countries there have been victims of trafficking traced from, through or to 162 countries worldwide. This industry for buying and selling humans is now the third largest and fastest growing criminal industries worldwide, generating $32 billion in profit each year. The average price to buy yourself a slave is $90.

This is just a short introduction to a huge injustice that is spreading throughout our world, and one that is so hidden and not spoken about. I know that I am still so ignorant about things happening not so far from my safe, comfortable world but I know now that I cannot stand idly by as such evil occurs. So what can we do?

  1. Pray! Our God is a mighty and powerful God who cares deeply for His people. This is not a battle we can fight without the supernatural power of God. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15
  2. Raise awareness. This issue of human trafficking is one that I was introduced to by some very passionate young people who had, much like myself, heard about it and been horrified. Ignoring the problem will not help anybody, and secrecy and ignorance is what this industry of buying and selling people thrives upon.
  3. Give to those who are working on the front lines. There are many people out there who are working to discover victims of trafficking, to help them escape and to then work with them to recover from the physical and mental trauma they have experienced. We cannot all be there doing this work, but we can help those who are doing it to continue to truly make a difference, whether we can give a little or a lot. Some locally based agencies doing brilliant work are Hagar and Freeset.

Human trafficking is a horrible injustice, but sadly it is just one of the many great wrongs in our world. There may be something else that really hits your heart and that you are passionate about restoring justice to, big or small, and I invite you to please share this in the comments! It could be bullying at school, abortion, gender equality or anything in between. Wherever your passion for justice lies, the three steps above can apply, but I encourage you to become aware of what is happening in the world and to speak out for those who are being exploited and abused. It may be hard or discouraging for us to see and hear of all these awful things, but think how much harder it is for those who live in it.

“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”

-William Wilberforce

Friendship and Freedom

friends

Today I want to share some ideas on friendship and freedom, how they are linked together and how they are important for us as Christians who all form the one body of Christ on earth.

C. S. Lewis once said;

“In friendship…we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting–any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”

This doesn’t mean that God controls everything that we do, he did give us free will. God encourages us to use this free will for the building of His Kingdom on Earth. Everything happens for a reason and God will always ensure that if we make the right decisions we will be rewarded with happiness and, as Lewis mentions above, we will surround ourselves with people who will help us grow.

The late Pope John Paul II said this about ‘free will’;

True freedom is not advanced in the permissive society, which confuses freedom with license to do anything whatever and which in the name of freedom proclaims a kind of general amorality. It is a caricature of freedom to claim that people are free to organize their lives with no reference to moral values, and to say that society does not have to ensure the protection and advancement of ethical values. Such an attitude is destructive of freedom and peace. … Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.

Thank God for the people in your life, thank Him for the pathway that He has set you upon which leads you home to His love. Pray for your companions and pray with your companions on this journey and also take the time to think about why the Lord has placed these people on your path and what they mean to you.

God Bless!

Dominus Lux Mea

Hosea’s wife

Recently I bought one of Brooke Frasers albums, Albertine, and after playing it over and over again there was one song that really stuck out to me called Hosea’s Wife.

To be honest, I am not a big reader of the Old Testament so I had never looked at the book of Hosea, but I was intrigued to know the full meaning of the song so I decided to read the book to get a better understanding.

After reading the story of Hosea’s wife, it has become one of my favorite stories in the bible. It is such a beautiful story of undeserving love between Hosea and his wife which reflects God’s love for each one of us. I recommend that you all read it! But I will give you quick summary of the story if you don’t know it already…

Hosea was a faithful prophet that firmly lived by the commandments of God at a time when a lot of people inIsraelwere not following the will of God. God commanded Hosea to take a wife that was a prostitute, Goma, who would not be faithful to him when they were married. This story depicts the spiritual adultery committed byIsraelagainst God by worshipping Idols. During their marriage Goma bears 3 children and eventually leaves Hosea and becomes a slave after being left by one of her lovers. God then tells Hosea to go and buy back his wife. The pain and Humiliation Hosea must have felt from his wife being intimate with other men and having to buy her back reflects how our sin pains God but also His unconditional love for us. He continues to forgive us no matter what.

After relating this story back to Brooke Frasers song it got me thinking about how we are like Hosea’s wife today.

There are so many scarred, lost souls in the world today that are searching for a meaning to life. Drawing from ‘Woman at the Wells’ last post, so many search in the wrong places and become slaves to all different forms of idolatry, sex, drugs, money or alcohol which ultimately leave them feeling empty. Think of how this must pain God to see his children sinning and suffering?

I feel so blessed to have been given a gift of faith from such a young age but I too struggle with the temptations of society sometimes. I often find myself thinking everyone else is doing it, why shouldn’t I? Or feeling ‘un-cool’.

But I always remember the scripture when Jesus says to the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” and Simon Peter replies, “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

This passage reminds me of the freedom God gives us to live however we wish. He does not force us to follow him, but it is only in God that we find meaning to our life. To believe is to begin to live with freedom, happiness and purpose. There are constant temptations that require us to sacrifice and deny desires of the flesh, but it is all for the greater glory of God. If Jesus himself suffered in service of love, why shouldn’t we?

Even when we are unfaithful, like Hosea’s wife and turn our back, God remains faithful and is always seeking us, ready to share his unconditional love.

Do not be ashamed to live to the full and share  the Good news!

The truth will set you free

Yesterday I saw the recently released film, ‘A Week with Marilyn’ which is based on a true story from the life of Norma Jean, or otherwise known as Marilyn Monroe. The movie was not entirely what I expected; it was not just celebrating Marilyn as the popular, glamorous superstar that she is usually perceived to be but rather it was a true portrayal of a time when at the peak of her career Marilyn was in the depths of an identity crisis. Trying to maintain her person as a confident sex symbol the world wanted her to be left no room for Marilyn to be who she truly was. At one point she says, “Everyone who loves me wants Marilyn Monroe, but when they find out I’m not her they leave”

Leaving the movies feeling sorry for the life Norma Jean was trapped in by insecurities, it made me think about how everyday young beautiful girls hide behind masks to live up to the endless expectations of society.

Everywhere you look these days, the television, magazines, billboards we are constantly bombarded by pictures of half naked woman flaunting ‘perfect’ size 6 figures. Every beautiful model has clear skin and straight teeth. Every week there is a new fashion trend to keep up with. But if all this isn’t bad enough we then have TV channels such as ‘E’ and magazines that are full of advice on “how to act to get the boy you want,” and criticism focused on appearance. It’s no wonder why more and more girls are obsessing with weight and image and suffer from low self-esteem. We fall into the belief that in order to be loved we have to be who the world tells us to be.

I read the other day in a popular university magazine, “First year girls keep up with trying to out dress each other every male on campus loves it! Yeah boy!”

…Since when did we have to start measuring up to the lustful thoughts of guys like these? Do these types of comments reflect true love? Does beauty equal happiness?

The answer to these questions is NO! Our search for true love and happiness can only be found in one place… Jesus Christ!

God is our creator and He Himself IS Love. Therefore there is no earthly or material thing that can satisfy this thirst for Love that God has instilled within us.God’s Love is unconditional! There are no limits or boundaries. For He so loved the world that He gave His only Son!

Each and every one of us is unique, yet made in the image and likeness of God… so until we come to know God’s love, we will never be truly fulfilled. We are more than just a body, we have been created Body and Soul and it is the soul that the cathechism teaches is of the greatest value in man; ”that by which he is most especially in God’s image”. As Bishop Fulton Sheen said, ”Beauty on the outside never gets into the soul, but beauty of the soul reflects itself on the face.”

So, Instead of basing our self-worth on the attention of others, the expectations of society and the spirit of the world, base it in Jesus Christ- the Way, the Truth and the Life. ‘ Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ John 8:32

The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.

Psalm45: 11

God Bless,

Mystical Rose