Practicing everyday justice

by Wayne Schwab

Let’s define justice – in a way that is both fresh and biblical. That means equal access – everyone gets equal access to the good things in life. For many, that can mean a home with good parenting, good schools, a job, and good health care. Equal access to the good things in life – that’s justice.

Here’s the story.  It’s about a mother and her nine-year-old daughter.  Where is justice in it?

Four friends have come to play with Sally. Sally has disappeared. She is under her bed crying. ”They don’t want to play with me.”

Sally has acted this way before. Sally imagines bad things – that they have come just to play on the new trampoline and might leave her out. “Sally, your friends have been looking all over the house for you.  They really want to play with you.”

She said it several times. Finally Sally came out. In time, Sally learned to see real friends liked her, not just her toys.  They had come to see her.

A happy ending. Sally, now a ninth-grader, has lots of friends; she’s a first-rate swimmer on the school’s team; and raises money for the team.

A loving parent, sure.  Did you catch her justice?

Justice for Sally was access to the good parenting every child is entitled to. Her mother did not say, “Sally doesn’t feel well – come back tomorrow.” For Sally, justice meant being taught to see things as they really are, not how she imagines them to be. Her friends really liked her, not just her toys.  Her mother made sure she could see the truth.

That’s some of the justice of good parenting – being taught how to tell the difference between what’s real and what’s only imagined.

Justice now as well as then

by Wayne Schwab

This week’s post is a recent podcast featured on The Member Mission Network website:

Welcome to another adventure in love and justice.  I’m Wayne Schwab of the Member Mission Network.  We help people to live better every day.  This time two stories about justice – one from the present, one from the past.

The present day story is about lawyer, Alicia.  She defends criminals.  Each client wants a miracle.  That result is usually unavailable.  So she is under great pressure.  Yet, she never yells or raises her voice with clients or staff.  How does she do it her colleagues and staff ask.  And so do we.  For the answer, a story from the past.

Jesus loved to dine with people who were social outcasts.  Some religious leaders of the Jews were shocked and angry.  In their mind, good Jews were supposed to avoid outcasts.  “Why does he eat with those people! (They were wrong-doers and tax collectors working for the Roman oppressors.)  He’s breaking our laws!”  The religious law governing Israel could be applied unfairly and outcasts could be treated unjustly as a result.  Jesus corrects the injustice by eating with the outcasts over and over.  Jesus says those leaders interpret wrongly.  He is not against the law itself.

Jesus is living God’s justice.  When people’s customs are unfair and abusive, Jesus breaks those customs and laws – even when he angers others so much they want to kill him.

Where does he get the power to befriend social outcasts in the face of threats to his life?  From the Holy Spirit – from God’s power at work in him.

The good news is that the Holy Spirit, God’s power for justice, works in us too!  That’s Alicia’s story.   Criminals are outcasts and Alicia befriends them by taking their cases.  How does she keep her cool?  She says, “God helps me to be patient.  I’ll keep asking God to help me to be patient.”  God supports Alicia’s patience and her clients get a decent defense.  Regardless of the outcome, she has done what she could for justice – with God’s help.

So that’s today’s adventure in justice.

For more, see membermission.org.

What is God’s mission?

by Wayne Schwab

Need a fresh and still biblical way to describe God’s mission?

God is on mission to make the world more loving and more just.

Wherever we meet love or justice, we are meeting God at work.

Wherever love or justice are weak or missing, God is at work to bring them.  Look around.  You will see signs of God at work somewhere, somehow.

Read the biblical story that way.  As the story unfolds, we are slowly getting the message that God does not want violence; God wants love and justice.

So, love at home but also be sure that you are fair with each other.

So, be just and pay fairly at work.  Pay fairly because you know and love your co-workers.

Seek to be loving and just and you are already part of God’s mission.  Open “eyes of faith” and see God helping you to love and to be just.

Writing a mission statement?

by Wayne Schwab

Are you writing your church’s mission statement?  Don’t begin by asking everyone to describe what they want the church to be doing; drawing together all the responses; and presenting them to the church for approval; and filling up many meetings and many weeks.
What’s more, it’s the wrong place to start.  It’s centered in us.  Start with God and God’s mission.  Look for what God is up to in the world you see around you. Ask the church and each member.  Work from the biblical narrative – the prophets’ call to justice; Jesus’ call to love as well as justice; the gift of the Spirit to everyone.
So, begin with God’s mission to make the world more loving and more just.  Jesus came to live God’s mission for all to see. Your church’s mission is to continue God’s mission in Jesus Christ to make the world more loving and more just. In baptism and reaffirmation of faith, each member joins Jesus’ mission to make the world more loving and more just.