EDITOR’S NOTE: “Justice looks like …” is a special series in the Voices column. Readers will have the opportunity to consider justice from numerous viewpoints. The series is based on each writer’s understanding of Scripture and relationship with Jesus Christ. Writers present their own views independent of any institution, unless otherwise noted in their bios.
You are encouraged to listen to each writer without prejudgment. Then, engage in conversation with others around you about what justice looks like to you.
Justice is a child looking towards a horizon of open opportunities and various paths to reach his or her God-given purpose. Justice is a child who knows they are growing in an environment where his or her best interest is essential to caregivers. Justice is a child who can be accepted and loved for who he or she is. Justice is a child who can love himself or herself just as he or she was made in the image of God.
Looking at justice as a child
When I hear “justice” as a first-generation Hispanic who has lived in the United States since age 13, my thinking is shaped by growing up in a border town.
These impoverished border communities know of justice as something only wealthy people can obtain. Justice is a commodity with a price. Corruption and justice are tied together for the benefit of those in a position of power and authority.
In this environment of injustice, you soon learn to survive and navigate through these systems. These systems are set to ensure as you grow, you know your place; you know your limitations and what is meant to be for you.
For example, there are sectors, or colonias, of housing where you are marginalized. Schools and people will ask, “Where do you live?” Your home address will tell a story of your socioeconomic status and ethnic origin.
Growing up in a border town, you knew the solution to reach justice was to walk and cross the Rio Grande just two miles north to the land where you can begin the pursuit of happiness. Growing up on the border, you knew the country you were born in would be an essential piece of your life to find purpose, justice and hope.
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Seeking justice as a youth
In my experience coming to the United States in my teen years, I felt, finally, justice was attainable, regardless of my socioeconomic status and ethnic origin.
It is imperative to understand when you come from poverty, any opportunity is a steppingstone to achieve purpose, justice and hope. To understand this last sentence, you must see it from the perspective of living where there is no hope and no justice; from there, any hope and opportunity is better than no hope and no justice.
I soon realized while there was more justice, hope and opportunity, there is a past in this country of injustice against African Americans and immigrant minorities. As an immigrant, you soon realize there is a limited expectation of who and what an immigrant represents.
While many can reach legal immigrant status, the profiling of your ethnic origin will be with you as a shadow.
How do we find justice, and how do we create an environment of justice?
Justice, according to the Scriptures and in its Hebrew context, has three main roots: (1) to punish what is not just, (2) to make straight anything that is not according to standard, and (3) to act according to the moral standard by which God measures human conduct.
According to Romans 2:13, it is not the hearers of the law who are just in God’s sight, but the doers of the law.
There is justice that comes from our Lord and King, and there is a justice expected from our Lord and King.
If a person finds justice, such a person has found purpose and meaning to his or her life. Justice is what took Jesus to the cross, and justice is what was given to each person who believes. He made straight what was twisted. He redeemed the believer with justice.
I believe creating an environment of justice begins with each person considering one’s ways in light of the moral standard of the word of God.
Some important questions are: How can we claim justice if we are in spiritual bankruptcy? How can we claim justice if we keep rejecting the biblical standard?
To make anything right, there must be a standard base. If we reject any biblical moral standard, then what is the standard?
Without a biblical foundation, the standard becomes like that in the time of the judges: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6, 21:25, NKJV).
Ricardo Brambila is pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista Dallas and director for Buckner Family Hope Center in Bachman Lake. He grew up in the Rio Grande Valley and now resides in Dallas. He has been married for 17 years to Janeth Brambila, and they have three children: Laura, Eli and Caleb. The views expressed are those solely of the author.
Click here to read the full “Justice looks like…” series.