How Should We Introduce You?

What do you want these people to know about you?

Personally, I’m good with Old bald guy in a wheelchair or Monte’s buddy. Most hosts seem to want something a bit more formal.

These days when I speak to a group the intro often mentions my connection to the FREEDOM TOUR. While I do many other things, that link tells the audience something about my identity, who I am and what I value.

Psalm 68:4-5 introduces God as “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows.” It’s God’s identity. It’s who He is and what He values.

JUSTICE is an integral part of God’s identity, who He is and what He values.

On the FREEDOM TOUR we do many things, but the two main activities boil down to community and justice. We seek to create a community of friends who cycle to bring hope and freedom to kids rescued from human trafficking. It’s tempting to think in terms of a two-colored wristband – there’s the blue (community) side and the green (justice) side. But perhaps it’s not so simple.

Scripture talks about two kinds of justice.

Mishpat is “restorative” justice. It’s setting things right—caring for victims (poor, widows, immigrants, orphans) as well as punishing wrongdoers.

Tzadeqah is “primary” justice, living in right relationships, as God intended, in the first place (often translated “righteousness”). Tzadeqah is community as God intended. Tzadeqah is the sort of justice that, if lived out, would make restorative justice unnecessary because we’d all be in right relationships with everyone.

Mishpat and tzadeqah, justice and righteousness, are used together more than three dozen times in scripture. Seems like they’re connected, as though the tzadeqah of right relationships with God and others can’t be separated from the mishpat of working to set things right.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. (Matthew 23:23-24)

So perhaps the two sides of the FREEDOM TOUR, community and justice, aren’t quite so distinct as they appear. Maybe community-building is best done in the context of working for justice…and vice-versa.

Maybe that two-sided wrist band isn’t the best model.

Next time: Geometry offers a better model for community and justice.