Matthew 12:20, “A Battered reed he will not break off, and a smoldering wick He will not put out, until He leads justice to victory.”
This year I have experienced more of a revolution in my thinking about the Christian life than I can remember. Recently, I read 1 Peter 2:21 with my wife. It says, “For to this you were called, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving an example for you to follow in his steps.” The big takeaway is that we are called to follow in the steps of Christ. I am just learning how radical this idea is.
As I am reading through Matthew, I have discovered that God wants us to be People of the Path. His hand is extended pointing us in the right direction so that we will see the direction to having a full life. One of the markers on this path is justice. God is concerned about justice.
God is concerned about when things are not right. He knows about the orphan in Africa who has no mom or dad. He knows about children being enslaved to sex rings and sex trafficking. He knows about the homeless who are attacked. He knows about the widow who cannot afford to buy good food or medical care. I think the reason why so many of us have a hard time believing that God cares about injustice is because we do not care enough or at all. I know God cares.
Today, I was reminded of all that Christ went through for the sake of justice. Scripture paints Christ as a battered read that would not break off or a smoldering wick that will not put out until justice was lead to victory. Describing the beating Christ endured is another lesson, but we can learn of His great concern for justice by all that he endured for the sake of justice. And we are called to follow in his steps.
The great question that I thought of while I read through this passage is, “What am I willing to endure for the sake of justice?” It is easy to simply pray for those who experience injustice. It is even necessary. But the hard reality is that being a person of the path means that I am doing more than praying. I am the heart, hands and feet that God uses to extend justice.
As this truth has began cracking through the hardness of my heart, I have realized a couple things.
First, if I am going to be a person of the path, I cannot be one who is propagating evil. While I am not involved in beating up homeless or leading a sex trafficking ring, I have to ask myself, “How am I bringing injustice into the lives of others/ where do I fail to love others?” For me, it is turning a blind eye to the homeless that approach me at the gas station. Or it might be in the way I drive. Injustice might even extend from me through the way I would treat those closest to me.
Second, if I am going to be a person of the path, I need to follow the path. That’s not rocket science, but reality. It is easy to think we are on the path because we entertain ourselves with religious habits instead of sacrificial love. Being on the path takes one step at a time. It might begin with prayer and Bible study asking God to show us what it means to follow Him. But it should not stop there. That is only the first step. We must act on what we know. Failure to act is failure to follow Christ.
Third, the path is hard. Jesus was compared to a battered read that would not break off and a wick that would not put out. How long are you willing to sacrificially love the weakest and most vulnerable in our society? I am faced with this question for myself. The reality is that the path is long. It goes until justice is lead to victory. While Christ brought justice to God for our sake, me must ask, “Who are we willing to battle for, and for how long?” Being on the path means that we never stop while we have breath, and this is something that a follower of Christ must embrace. There is no plan B.