Our theme this Sunday at Virginia-Highland Church will be discerning just what it means to “do justice.” Ours is a younger congregation, so asking them to do an activity is often met with great success. This week, we will look at specific, tangible, and badly-needed work that our current political system demands.
However, one great translation of this phrase from Micah 6:8, which is the basis for our church’s vision and mission statements, interprets this passage in a profoundly different way. It calls upon us to “live justly.” Rather than addressing us to DO something to build a more just world, that translation seems to indicate that God requires us to BE a more just person in the world.
Being a just person, of course, almost always will compel us to work for justice for others, especially the poor and marginalized, so the end results may be similar. This translation, however, calls us to consider our lifestyle and whether it contributes to justice or injustice, whether who we are and how we live makes the world more equitable, fair, balanced and life-enhancing, especially for the most vulnerable and powerless. In this challenge, the prophet has “quit preaching and gone to meddling.” If we take this call seriously in our lives, a comprehensive self-examination is in order:
- In a culture in which shopping is a competitive sport, is that really a great buy, or the product of slave labor, or a dangerous sweatshop where children labor for 18 hours a day for pennies?
- As we watch our 401ks grow with the rise of the Dow, have we bothered to see if we are invested in oil companies that profit by exploiting the environment, or chemical companies that enhance their margins by poisoning the community? Are we profiting from the obscene profits of pharmaceutical companies that exploit the sick and dying so you and I get greater dividends?
- What about that trip? Does it really leave the world cleaner and better, or might you have walked instead of driving? Might you encourage your company to do more business virtually, even if it means you don’t get to feel important boarding another plane?
Of course, this list can, and should, go on and on, but the point is there are many things we can do to live more just lives. Marching is important, but changing our lifestyles might be vital!
Rev. Michael Piazza