The justice we need
By Tom Ford, Major –
Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
There are things taking place in the world that spur my attention: law enforcement possibly using excessive measures, people gunning down police, beheadings, bombing, kidnapping, the polarization of our society on so many fronts, refugees and immigrants seeking safety, and the list goes on.
The common denominator is justice. People want justice; social justice.
In Scripture, I find a “retributive” type of justice—an “eye for an eye.” There is also the “equal” type of justice. If one qualifies for the same rights as another, they should have equal rights without bias or prejudice. Finally, there is a “redemptive” type of justice. Jesus is the one to bring this form of justice. “… I will put my Spirit on him and he will proclaim justice to the nations…he leads justice to victory, in his name the nations will put their hope” (Matt. 12:18-21).
The goal with redemptive justice is the restoration of the individual and of society. In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11-32, the Father does not reprimand the son when he returns, but puts his robe and ring on his son to restore him. In John 8, when the adulterous woman was brought to Jesus, no one could throw the first stone and condemn her. Jesus could have. We see him not ignoring the sin, but tells her to sin no more.
Mind you, sometimes the restoration of a person or a society means that the other kind of social justices need to take place. Without retributive justice, how can one learn to not make the same mistake unless he suffers the consequences? But with redemptive justice, the goal is always to do what is best to restore both the person and society.
This is what prison ministry is all about. This is what ministering to individuals and to our communities is all about. This is the type of social justice movement William Booth envisioned for The Salvation Army.
Though spoken over a half century ago, King’s words hold truer now than ever before. We need redemptive justice in Ferguson, Syria, France, New York, in prisons and throughout the world.
We invite those who are interested in making a difference in the area of corrections to join us in being part of the solution. You can make a difference in this area. Contact me at email@example.com to find out how.