God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice.
Matthew 5:6 NLT
Something deep inside tells us that the world is not as it should be. Nations go to war over rights to land. Refugees struggle to survive. Children starve because of corrupt governments. Many are marginalised and mistreated because of their race, class or identity. We feel the pain of injustice. We want things to be different and better. We want the world to work as it should and can. We ache for change.
Jesus once went up on a mountainside and began to teach (check out the full story in Matthew 5). He said, “blessed are the poor… those who mourn… the meek, those who hunger for justice, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted… and blessed are you…”
These ancient sayings, spoken by Jesus, offer a radical alternative to the broken systems we’ve created. If we have the courage to follow these beatitudes, together we might discover a new way of thinking and doing that can change our lives and our world.
Some versions of the Bible translate this beatitude as “righteousness” and others as “justice.” In the original language this word means doing what is right, or action approved by God.
What’s the hunger for justice that’s inside of you? How would you finish this sentence: “I’m hungry and thirsty for a world where…?”
It’s significant to give voice to what we want to see made new. But can the world actually be different than it is? In the face of so many overwhelming struggles, it’s easy to live under the illusion of futility and powerlessness. And yet Jesus taught, “You are the light of the world.” His words dare us to believe in our own agency and participate in making the world what it could be – what we long for it to be.
More than any other generation before us, we are aware that everything is connected. We shape the world by our choices. We can use our power for good. To live by doing to others what we would have them do for us. To love our neighbours as we love ourselves.
In the 18th century, human slavery was a universal phenomenon. The slave trade and slave labor was vital to the economies of many countries. It was an injustice that, to most, seemed impossible to change. But a few people began to dream and work towards the abolition of slavery. Reformers like Hannah More and William Wilberforce took personal, public and political steps to end slavery. Many abolitionists stopped buying sugar to use in their tea and cooking because most sugar at that time was a product of slave labor. Through collective lifestyle changes, persistent action, and political advocacy, slavery was eventually abolished.
Make one change.
One way to think about living justly is to ask yourself, “if everyone on the planet lived like me – ate as much meat, used as much water, spent as much money as I do – what would the consequences be?”
What small change do you feel invited to make, but haven’t yet put into action? Try it on for a week. Go meatless. Walk instead of driving. Carry water from home instead of buying plastic water bottles. Only consume fair trade coffee, tea and chocolate…
Changes are easier to make when you tell someone else and do it with them – so invite a friend to join you.
Mark Scandrette is an author, teacher, activist and coach for leaders and teams who want to create a better world from the inside out.
Part of the Nine Beats collective – a group of international troubadours, poets, rebels, provocateurs, sages & activists on the trail of the ancient Bible sayings known as ‘the beatitudes’. Find out more at www.9beats.org or join the movement at Facebook/9Beats,