There is a stench to injustice. But you have to get close enough to the issue to smell it.
Proximity is the variable. How close are we willing to come so that the rankness of this odor apprehends us?
Back when William Wilberforce and the other abolitionists were trying to awaken the British people to the stench of the slave trade, they purposely cruised the luxury ships of the upper class close to the slave ships, so that the sights, sounds, and smells of those ships would assault the eyes, ears, nostrils, and souls of the rich passengers. Wilberforce knew that the stench of the horrors of slavery needed to ruin the card games, gossip parties, and tea times of the wealthy.
Proximity was the game-changer then and it’s a game-changer now. As long as our lives are falsely sanitized and disinfected of the sights, sounds, and smells of injustice, we easily miss the struggle and plight of our neighbors.
God does not excuse lack of proximity. In fact, He sent His son Jesus into the world so that He could fully experience the sights, sounds, and smells of humanity. And He didn’t just get near to us, He became us (without sin) in order to regain the authority that Adam had lost. A restored relationship with us was so important, that He chose an excruciating death on a cross to satisfy the penalty of our sin. The cross was the ultimate act of justice.
Injustice Breeds Chaos
Injustice breeds societal chaos. The effects may not happen immediately, but seeds sown will produce a harvest eventually, whether for good or for evil. The riots in our streets, the mass shootings in our schools, the opioid crises in our own families are just some of the sights, smells, and sounds of the harvest of injustice in our nation. And social media is one of the vehicles that has allowed us to get close enough to be offended by what we see.
But it’s not just social media that was opened our eyes. The crises have saturated our culture to such an extent that rioting is happening in our city, it’s our brother who’s become addicted to meth, and it’s our local school that was shot up once again by a bullied youth (or almost shot up as in the case in our region)….our “yacht” has gotten close enough to the crisis that our eyes are opened and our souls are affected.
Now that we know, what will we do?
Marching, walkouts, petition drives, donating to causes, voting for those that will uphold justice for all, serving in public office, are practical solutions that our democratic society offers to us. And if we believe that legislative changes need to be made, then we need to do the above actions to make sure our voice is heard.
However, I want to suggest that political or philanthropic action is not the only response God is looking for. In the book of Joel, when pestilence, plague, and invading armies were threatening to destroy the nation of Israel, God offered a remedy: He called for the nation of Israel to gather together and repent (and fast).
Repentance Is Heaven’s Key To A Turnaround
Repentance is heaven’s key to a turnaround. Repenting for our lawless actions (as an individual and/or as a nation) or for our apathetic inaction is a Kingdom catalyst. God’s mercy and grace are released to those that humble themselves, pray, and turn from personal and national wicked ways. And repentance is both horizontal and vertical. It’s a divine transaction between us and God and between us and others.
What is the fruit of repentance? According to 2 Chronicles 7:14, God hears our cries. He then forgives our sin. And He heals our land. Without repentance, there is no restoration. The blessing we seek only comes through the doorway of repentance.
I’ve noticed that in my life when I come before the Lord in humility and tears, He drops ideas and strategies in my heart on how to specifically release justice and righteousness in my realm of influence. He reveals how on a practical level I can be a minister of healing and reconciliation. And I’ve noticed that as I have begun to implement His ideas, the impact of these solutions have begun to expand that initial realm of influence…so that more eyes are opened to these powerful Kingdom truths, more people are helped and healed, and injustice is increasingly eradicated.
So would you join me today? It’s time to release the fragrance of Christ.
Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?
2 Corinthians 15 - 16 NLT