I recently met with Heather, a woman who attends my church in New York City. After graduating from Harvard Law School she landed a lucrative job with a major law firm in Manhattan. It was a dream come true for most aspiring young professionals. She was a high-powered corporate lawyer, she was “living the life” in the big city, and yet it was all strangely unsatisfying. She wanted to make a difference in the lives of individuals, and she was concerned about those in society who could not afford the kind of fees her clients paid her firm. For a fraction of her former salary, she became an assistant district attorney for New York County, where so many of the criminals she prosecutes are those who have been exploiting the poor, particularly poor women.
When I was professor at a theological seminary in the mid-eighties, one of my students was a young man named Mark Gornik. One day we were standing at the copier and he told me that he was about to move into Sandtown, one of the poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods in Baltimore. I remember being quite surprised. When I asked him why, he said simply, “to do justice.” It had been decades since any white people had moved into Sandtown. For the first couple of years there it was touch and go. Mark told a reporter, “The police thought I was a drug dealer, and the drug dealers thought I was a police officer. So, for a while there, I didn’t know who was going to shoot me first.” Yet over the years Mark, along with leaders in the community, established a church and a comprehensive set of ministries that have slowly transformed the neighborhood.16
Although both Heather and Mark were living comfortable, safe lives, they became concerned about the most vulnerable, poor, and marginalized members of our society, and they made long-term personal sacrifices in order to serve their interests, needs, and cause.
That is, according to the Bible, what it means to “do justice.”
Timothy Keller, Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just, 1st ed. (New York: Dutton, 2010), 1–2.
We have just released a new Bible study on topic of Justice and the Prophets
These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.