This past week I participated in the second annual Selah Vie conference. Selah Vie—Pause Life—is an end of summer reflection conference for graduate and college students who have served with Student.Go, Passport, or as CBF congregational interns. It is easy to forget how old you are until you get about 150 college students together.
On Tuesday, I helped lead a small group discussion for the Student.Go students. Each small group rotated through five rooms in which the room facilitator asked a question. My question was one of those questions. You know the ones I mean, easy to ask, extremely difficult to answer. The discussion question was, “What is Justice?”
Have you ever been asked something and found yourself pausing to consider your answer only to realize that you really did not know how to start your answer? That is how it was with us in those small groups. The question sat there, hanging in the room. It faced us, challenging us to say something, challenging us to wrestle with the word/concept/reality.
When we finally spoke, it was in the form of story. We shared stories from our summer ministry experience. These were stories about real people all over the world. We shared grief over events that seemed unjust, questions about our reactions to such stories and joy when we heard stories that seemed to give small glimpses of the Kingdom of God. The common thread of our shared experience and discussion all centered upon seeing people as people.
Maybe we had stumbled upon a clue to the question, “What is Justice?” In every story shared we learned about our common humanity—our common humanness. We pondered the prophets Micah’s combining the words justice and mercy and humbleness and the relational framework that emerges (Micah 6:8). Finally, we thought about Genesis and how God tells us that we are created in God’s image, and the power of approaching people, regardless of circumstance as made is the image of God.
In the end, I think that we left with more questions than answers. I know a thought that I continue to reflect upon is this, “Maybe justice has less to do with a legal system and more to do with recognizing the humanity of others.”