A lot has been written about the terrorist attacks in the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The death of the journalists and artists has been declared a war against free speech. And any attack against free speech is an attack on freedom and justice. Here in the west, we hold firmly onto the values of freedom of speech and freedom of expression. And yet we live with this awkward tension between the defence of free speech and the defence against hate speech.
The awkward part of Charlie Hebdo is that the satirical cartoons made a mockery of the prophet Mohammed. And although it falls within the realms of free speech, it borders on the line of hate speech. It’s this tension which challenges how we as a society decide what is true and just.
Throughout history we see that justice is not an absolute term. What is just differs from culture to culture. In this Charlie Hebdo situation, we are appalled, and rightfully so, at the murder of the journalists and artists. And yet from the terrorists perspective, they were simply administering what they believed was just. They were judge, jury and executioner for what they saw as a grave injustice – the mockery of the prophet Mohammad.
What do you do when two sides are so far apart in what they deem as right? What do you do when two sides are so far apart on what they understand as righteous and just?
Amidst all of this, there can often be a tendency for Christians to stand on the edge of the debate. Fearful to speak out, not wanting to offend, upset, or even face persecution. Too often we stand waiting for the return of Christ, with our eyes so focused on heaven, that we lose sight of the reality of today. But in the example of Christ, we see that he regularly engaged with the people around him. He didn’t walk in fear. He had a certainty on what was right and what was wrong. He never wavered because He knew, absolutely, what true justice and righteousness was. How else was he able to answer the Pharisees questions? How else would he be able to answer questions on taxes or fasting? How else would he be able to stand trial, facing the greatest injustice, and still stand so firm?
Christ holds the keys to truth and justice. Not the world, the countries, the judges, the presidents, kings or rulers. With that in mind, we need to be asking God to fill us with his truth and justice.
God, give us your perspective. Give us your heart. Give us you mind. And let us be moved to action.
Followers of Christ have a long history action for the marginalised and vulnerable in society. Schools, orphanages, care homes, hospitals – Christians in history have followed God’s command to care for the orphans and widows, to provide for the sick, hungry, or imprisoned. Have we forgotten what it means to stand with Christ?
Do justly. This world is having a hard time figuring out what justice is. This is the time for those who follow Christ to demonstrate justice with the love of God.
Lord, show us where the injustices in society are today, and break our heart for what breaks yours.
these are some thoughts on the message from week 2, 2015. if you missed it, you can catch up here.