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Joy and Justice

by IJM Institute

“God beckons and woos us because he knows that inexplicable joy comes from following him into the work of bringing freedom and justice.”
The Justice Calling, Chapter 6, pg. 156

The work of justice and a spirit of joy seem as if two separate aspects of life that would never be intertwined. Two terms that would rarely be set next to one another, let alone given space to interact. One pulls you into the depth of evil in this world and the other is an overwhelming fullness of life and abundance.

Can the work of justice and a life of joy, realistically be intertwined in our everyday life?
For when the evil of this world is right in front of your eyes and desperately you are trying to charge the darkness as you know we have been called, where could joy possibly find space to reside?
When we think of the work of justice, joy is probably furthest from our minds. Despair, courage, and overwhelming are words often associated with the work of justice. To add joy to that list would be to add something that in no way fit the mold or expectation. Though when we look at the kingdom of God, is that not how things seem to work? The kingdom of God is countercultural to what we would expect and does not seem to fit any pre-existing mold.

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last”
Matthew 20:16 (NRSV)

“For when I am weak, then I am strong."
2 Corinthians 12:10 (NRSV)

Nicholas Wolterstorff states that not only does he believe justice and joy can in fact coexist with another, but he would even, “go so far as to argue that justice enables true joy” (The Justice Calling, Chapter 2, pg. 47).

Choosing to follow God into the darkest parts of this world is not a call to sacrifice joy. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Scripture lead us to trust that a life with Jesus should be one of pursuing justice which breathes life into a spirit of joy. 

“When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous, but dismay to evildoers.”
Proverbs 21:15 (NRSV)

To believe that joy can actually be a consistent companion on the journey of justice is not futile or forced. Welcoming joy as a part of justice work is not disregarding the gravity of the work. It is acknowledging that in spite of the depth of evil we see and fight, the God we serve is sovereign and good over it all. The battle has been won and, “darkness will never have the final word” (The Justice Calling, Chapter 4, pg. 110).

Read more about how justice and joy can coexist in your life in, The Justice Calling. 

Three Ways to Get Involved Now:

  1. Get a sneak peek! Download the first chapter of The Justice Calling. Share it with at least one person today and use #justicecalling on social media!
  2. Can’t get enough? Order the book for you and your friends!
  3. Make plans to go through the book and the reader’s guide with a group!

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