In the ending scene of ‘The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe’, Aslan is tied to the stone table, left to die. As mice furiously chew the ropes that bind him, Lucy and Susan turn away to watch the dawn.
Suddenly there is a deafening ‘crack!’ “like the sound of a giant’s plate crashing.” They turn to see what’s happened; the Stone Table is broken in half and Aslan is nowhere to be seen. As the girls worry and fuss they shiver at the sound of his voice; there he is in all his full-maned glory.
Aslan is not only NOT dead, he has more to do to set others free.
They set off towards the Witch’s castle, flying over the walls. In Aslan goes, breathing on the creatures who had been turned to stone—restoring their lives with his spirit.
“At last the ransacking of the Witch’s fortress was ended.
The whole castle stood empty with every door and window open
and the light and the sweet spring air flooding in
to all the dark and evil places which needed them so badly.”
There are corners of dark and evil across this whole, wide world that need the breath of God; that is what social justice is all about.
Like the cracking of the Stone Table, the tearing asunder of the temple veil because of Jesus’ death and resurrection makes a way for mankind to be reconciled to their Creator and restored in body, soul and spirit. (II Corinthians 5:18-21.)
I recently heard Ken Wytsma, founder of the Justice Conference, and author of ‘Pursuing Justice’,The Call to Live and Die for Better Things’, speak at a Leadership Conference in Oregon. He had this to say:
“We typically define justice as good works, or charity, or ethical action. Justice should be defined as what ought to be. God created the earth as it should be, known as primary justice, and restoring this world back to what ought to be, is known as restorative justice. A correct definition of what justice would be, would be a right relationship with God, self, others, and creation.”
JUSTICE ISN’T JUST A GOOD THING, IT’S A GOD THING
God’s heart throughout His Word is revealed in passages about caring for widows, orphans, sojourners, aliens, foreigners. They matter. Their needs matter.
In today’s world restorative justice might look like English classes for immigrants, clean water campaigns for children in 3rd world countries, ‘Bloggers for Birth Kits’ for mothers in Indonesia. Or it could be sponsoring a friend in their mission to Rwanda because of their passion for kids.
As I teach in a public school setting, restorative justice(things as they ought to be) is as simple as one on one math time for a child with a learning disability. Advocating for an autistic child who needs some playmates at recess. And it looks like me lifting M. from his wheelchair in PE, strapping him to a ‘tummy scooter’ so he can propel himself about the floor with his classmates.
Ken’s words at that conference have caused me to rethink my view of just why Jesus died. Ultimately, Christ’s sacrifice was to bring men and women to God, to have a relationship with Him and to be made whole. Restored.
In the days ahead, maybe our witness could be less like handing people a speech about their needs for salvation, but introducing them instead to our Saviour, breathing on them the ‘pneuma’ of God that brings them to life. Life as it ought to be.
This post is a contribution to the link up over at The High Calling,
where other writers are talking about Social Justice. More good words over there.