The “arc of the moral universe … is bending toward justice.”
These are now famous words, but are they true? What do you see when you do a personal memory scan of what you know about history. Some of us may see an arc toward justice; others of us may wonder.
We surely have not arrived at complete justice in the United States.
We live in a nation of laws, which is a huge step toward greater justice, but those laws are not always justly applied across economic and racial divides.
We live in a nation of inclusiveness that promotes justice for all persons without regard to race or ethnicity, but still bigotry and racism flourish in both language and violence.
Justice and injustice — both are real.
Scripture makes it clear that God is just and wants justice. One reason some people miss this is that in Scripture the words translated as justice or righteousness are often the same words in Hebrew or Greek.
To keep this simple, we can just say that justice and righteousness are intimately connected in Scripture. We can say that God is both righteous and just and also that God’s people are to be both righteous and just.
Matthew 13 illustrates the connection between righteousness and justice, and it shows the importance of both. Jesus said at the end of time all of those who cause sin and are lawless will be thrown out of God’s kingdom. “Then the righteous [just] will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Let anyone who has ears listen” (Mt. 13:43, CSB, bracketed word added).
In short, God’s children are righteous and just.
God is bending the moral universe toward justice, and God has called us to join in this work.
Some may doubt the truth of what Martin Luther King, Jr., said about the arc of the moral universe bending toward justice, but I think this great pastor described exactly what God is doing and wants all of us to participate in doing.
Here is the full quote from King’s book, Stride Toward Freedom:
But amid all of this we have kept going with the faith that as we struggle, God struggles with us, and that the arc of the moral universe, although long, is bending toward justice.
We struggle or should be struggling in pursuit of God’s great purposes, and one of those is justice. We do not, however, struggle alone. When we pursue God’s purposes we have the Divine energy and power with us. Justice is our struggle, but it is not ours alone.
A version of this post originally appeared on the Texas Baptists website.