Love in Public
Jesus, who taught us that love of God and love of neighbor together sum up God’s law, drew from a rich history, a common refrain in Jewish Scriptures. Only instead of “love of neighbor,” the older scriptures call it “justice.” Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8) Justice and love of neighbors are intimately connected. I love how philosopher and social activist Cornel West puts it: “Justice is what love looks like in public.”
If you haven’t had a chance to fill out a block map yet, you’ll want to do that now. You can print one from here or just scratch one out on paper. Then pick one of the communities you’re part (home, work, school…), one where you can know people face to face and hear their stories. Write in the names of your 8 nearest “neighbors” or an identifying characteristic if you don’t know their names yet.
Now with these people in mind, read over the following passages two times: the first time just as written, the second time substituting “love of neighbor” wherever you see the word “justice.” How do you sense God nudging you as you read? Talk with God about these things, and then take a minute to pray for your neighbors.
“For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords,
the great, the mighty, and the awesome God
who does not show partiality nor take a bribe.
He executes justice for the orphan and the widow,
and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.
Vindicate the weak and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and destitute.
Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.
Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you,
And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.
For the LORD is a God of justice;
How blessed are all those who long for Him.