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Justice – it's all in the word

Let’s search God’s word to find His heart for justice, says Tearfund

“The risen Jesus expects that His community of disciples, which is preaching the good news among the nations, is also striving at Christian unity, is sharing its resources with the poor and needy, is engaged in costly initiatives of peacemaking, and is hungering and thirsting after God’s justice.”

Theologian Vinoth Ramachandra’s powerful statement is found in session two of Live Justly, a 10-part Bible study used across six continents, and it’s inspiring Christians to be good news to their communities – bringing justice, restoration and hope. 

But what does it mean to be people of justice in the world today? In many ways, we have reason to celebrate. Since 1990, extreme poverty has halved. Life expectancy is increasing. Diseases such as malaria and measles are retreating. More children are in school than ever before. Millions of businesses have started. And an ever-increasing number of people can fulfil their God-given potential.

Yet, despite this progress, we’re increasingly aware that the way our global economy works is not sustainable. The growth of foodbanks countrywide is a poignant reminder of the growing gap between rich and poor. And the story is the same – if not more extreme – around the world. As well as inequality, the effects of climate change on the world’s poorest people are becoming even more severe. 

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Since 2016, world hunger has been increasing due to climate breakdown and conflict. In the past few months, we’ve seen record cyclones hit Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, and the hottest temperature ever recorded in India during a severe drought.

If we want to see an end to extreme poverty, we must respond to these pressing challenges. And we, God’s people, are perfectly positioned to do just that. At Evangelical Alliance member Tearfund we passionately believe that the local church is the hope of the world. We are God’s people, positioned in almost every community in the world – the biggest grassroots network on the planet, which knows the living, present and active God.

As we’ve supported communities to look at what the Bible has to say about their situation, we’ve seen churches come alive with God’s invitation to be good news to their communities and bring about incredible spiritual and material transformation as a result. One example of this is Live Justly, which has helped Christians to engage with issues such as inequality and climate breakdown.

The book, a series of group studies, starts with what the Bible says about justice, and goes on to explore the role of prayer, community, advocacy, generosity and charity in living a life of justice, before ending with the vision of jubilee’, where all people and all creation flourish as God intends.

In northern Nigeria, a group of young people studied Live Justly and were inspired to start transforming their community. They raised money to buy tree seedlings, which they planted along the main street in Yola, before asking local banks to adopt and look after the trees. 

By learning about advocacy, they’ve also campaigned to local government to support their efforts of greening and cleaning up Yola, and have continued to grow their impact. People have been amazed by the transformation in their lives and the fire they have for God’s kingdom to come in Yola.

Home groups in the UK have also worked through the Live Justly series and have begun unifying local churches, while student groups passionate for justice have found fresh rooting in the scriptures, and some churches have even converted it to a preaching series. 

Of course, this isn’t about the Bible studies themselves; this is about God’s people engaging with the scriptures and catching a vision of a life of worship, that incorporates all we do and every decision we make, and places it all within a vision of justice and restoration.

We face some huge challenges in the next decade, but the church is well-positioned to lead this transformation and to do it by being faithful to the good news of Jesus and modelling a different way forward based on God’s vision of a just world. To find out more about Live Justly, you can download the sessions for free or order a copy of the book at tear​fund​.org/​l​i​v​e​j​ustly or email campaigns@​tearfund.​org.

Photo: Kieran Todds, Tearfund

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