Pursuing Justice: The call to live and die for bigger things by Ken Wytsma (Founder of The Justice Conference) is exactly what is needed in order for the practical, philosophical, theological, and affectional sides of this current justice movement’s to be explained and lived out. It is also an important book to be able to give the argument for social justice and Christian action to both conservative and liberal perspectives to become more balanced.
Wytsma paints a mosaic of justice- pursuing issues such as consumerism, generosity, love towards our neighbors, grace and reconciliation, slavery, gender-based violence, and living a lifestyle of just worship.
The lens of truth and justice that we see in the Bible has to be acted upon in order for the imago dei to be fully respected and the gospel we preach and live to be holistic, even as we wait expectantly for Jesus to come back to judge the world and set everything right in the New Heaven and New Earth.
The most enjoyable pieces of this book that I found were in Wytsma’s answer of “Why are we doing this again?” (pg. 52) and the last three chapters on becoming educated for justice and giving our life away.
The three reasons he gave for why we do justice were:
1. It’s ethical- justice is the right thing to do.
2. It’s religious- God has called and commanded us to join Him in doing justice.
The third one (which I have had to process the most as a result of reading this book): It’s personal- doing justice fulfills our deepest longings and leads to peace and joy.
This paragraph was fundamental in my enjoyment of the book:
If justice is a fundamental part of God’s good news, and if it truly is better to give than to receive, why do we have such a hard time jumping in and giving our lives away? Why do we cling to a thin individualism rather than embrace a robust love for our neighbor? I believe we’ve robbed justice of one of its prime motivators: godly happiness. (53)
The art of personal story and biblical narrative that is weaved throughout this book is what makes it so engaging and easier to read than other books I’ve read on justice issues.
The last three chapters set the framework for how to make awareness and education as the launching point for engaging in justice work. Kilns College in Bend, Oregon is the outworking of Wytsma’s application of teaching others how to have a biblical framework and practical learning to put justice into action. Faith requires risk and giving up rights in order to live the daily dying that Christ calls us to.
In a broken world full of inequity and injustice- from human trafficking to racism to gender violence, and from gossip to consumerism to petty anger- can we really treat our lives as God’s? Can we redeem and energize the concept of justice and embrace the fullness of God’s plans for creation? Can we expect to find true life and happiness in obeying Him as we seek to give our lives away for others? (292)
Along with Wytsma I give a resounding affirming YES! Reading this book will show you God’s heart for justice and inspire you to action!