Resource Review: Proximate Justice by Steven Garber

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 NIV


This thoughtful and artfully written article by Steven Garber discusses how to pursue justice as a believer in today’s corrupt world. It can be, to put it lightly, extremely disheartening to fight for justice when we are surrounded by such profound injustice every day. Garber suggests, therefore, that as Christians we must be satisfied with proximate justice: the knowledge that we will never see perfection this side of heaven, but that we can rest assured that complete justice will come with Christ’s return.  

For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead. Acts 17:31

Are we to judge?

Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. 1 Corinthians 4:5

But does that excuse the believer from doing the grueling work of engaging in politics, policy, and law? Absolutely not. We cannot lose sight of our vision even if we feel limited in our own finite power. 

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Do the hard work.

Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22 NIV

Those who love Jesus ought to be the ones fighting the hardest for the marginalized, oppressed, and forgotten. But we ought to do so without being discouraged. Our goal should be to bring as much light into the darkness as we possibly can but to understand the job will never be completely done in our lifetimes. We can rest in the knowledge that we gave it our all and that Jesus will take care of the rest.

“Even after a lifetime of bumping up against the brokenness of life, seeing and hearing the wounds of both persons and politics, I still believe that the vision of vocations as salt and light—John Stott calls them affective commodities, transforming their environments—sends us into the world week by week, year after year, with callings to care about the way things are and ought to be. Bono echoes this vision in his reflection on his own vocation: “I’m a musician. I write songs. I just hope that when the day is done, I’ll have torn a little corner off of the darkness.” If that can be true of me, of you, then we will have made peace with the doing of proximate justice. And that is not a small thing for people who yearn for the whole cosmos to be made right, and who know that someday it will be.” -Steven Garber

Let us not forget our true calling.

And Church, let us not allow this time of profound political division to divide us. Whether we agree or disagree with our brothers and sisters in Christ, let us show the world that all points of view and ways of life can come to the feet of Jesus, and we can all love and accept one another.

We may not be able to accomplish all of our heart’s desires, but it does not have to be an all or nothing mentality. Proximate justice, the possibility of something rather than nothing, is a far greater focus than if we stood there and did absolutely nothing. Let it give you the hope and peace of knowing there is a brighter future.