In Karen Spears Zacharias' book " Will Jesus buy me a Double Wide ", Hugh Hollowell is the marine in the book. Last week he was on the stage with Shane Claiborne and Jonathon Wilson-Hartgrove at Big Tent Christianity. I think these words from Hugh are timely, and should greatly challenge us all...and the church.
The justice of Jesus is brought about by sacrifice, love and suffering. And to the extent that we do not exercise sacrificial love, suffering and proclaim the Reign of God, we are far from the way of Jesus.
Jesus calls us to serve, not lead. The way is not about political solutions – in fact, Jesus said political power would be used against us as we sought to bring about God’s justice. The way does not involve courting those in power – the Apostle Paul told us Jesus made a spectacle of the powers of this world.
There are any number of passages in both the Hebrew scriptures as well as the New Testament that speak of God’s love for the victims of injustice and our responsibility to work to bring that justice into fruition. The one I am thinking about right now, however, is Matthew 16:18, where Jesus tells Peter that …”I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it”.
I am not the first person to note that Jesus refers to the gates as a defense measure. Those gates are there to keep us out. Just what does Jesus expect of us?
Jesus expects us to storm down those gates and invade Hell itself. Jesus is telling us to go to Hell to be with the drug addict and the alcoholic. Go to Hell to be with the victims of abuse, and with the abusers. Go to hell and liberate the adulterer, the homeless man, the pornographer. In hell is where we will find the single mother and the embezzler, the pimps and the pimped, the hungry, the broken, the forgotten. We, you and I together, should be wading into hell itself and proclaiming that there is a new way to live and a new way to love, and that new way is bringing about the justice of God.
The justice of Jesus is a personal justice. It involves sacrificial, relational love. It involves dying to ourselves, our ambitions, our preconceived notions of how things work. The way of Jesus invites us to be the means by which God’s justice comes into being. It invites us to go to Hell, for the sake of those imprisoned there.