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  • Writer's pictureRev. Joel L. Tolbert

Praying for Justice

In my theology class in Seminary, one of my professors described God with two adjectives. He said God is love AND God is justice. God is always both. The character of God designs, expects, and bends all things toward love AND justice, never one or the other, never one without the other, never one over the other, always both.

My personal prayer times have been haunted by a desperate need for justice in our world. My daily routine includes some reading and listening to the events of our community and world. My daily routine includes a tap into some form of scripture. I've noticed that I am seeing desperate words and cries for justice everywhere. I've also noticed how hard I have to look sometimes to find the love.

I'm quite frustrated when I hear someone say, "I love everybody," and then follows that line with some sentence that doesn't invite justice. I'm disappointed when I see seekers of justice move beyond non-violent resistance toward words or actions that no longer show love. I've been feeling for weeks this tug of war inside me, as if I am supposed to choose justice regardless of the lack of love in seeking it, or as if I am able to love without sacrificing something to build justice.

The God whom I pray with (and to) has been stirring in me a holy tension, not letting me slip off into some fluffly love that doesn't do the hard work of justice, or into some ends-justify-the-means version of justice that absolves itself from the responsibility to love. They are both true and required in my actions, through the church, and in our society.

The chant is sometimes "No justice? No peace!" What I'm realizing is that justice without love will not bring peace. Love without justice will not bring peace.

It does seem easier to choose love or justice, and I wonder if that why people seem to choose one over the other. Those who lead us to seek both without letting go of either are the leaders our church and world need the most today. I pray I can be one of them.

Blessings, Laughter, and Loving be yours,

Rev. Joel L. Tolbert

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