It’s not easy to define the term economic justice. I searched for an adequate definition but didn’t find much agreement on what it means. Sometimes it’s synonymous with social justice. I became familiar with the term as a result of teaching on what the bible says about money and possessions. Justice speaks to fairness and equality. We are all angered by injustice and agree that the desire for justice is a Godly pursuit. What about economic justice? The pursuit to bring economic equality to our world. Honestly most of us fear it. We fear some people getting what they don’t deserve and others not getting what they do deserve. Other terms like “redistribution of wealth” and “socialism” come to mind. We acknowledge the existence of poverty and for those of us that have more than enough we wonder what God expects of us. Recently while watching the news two stories caught my attention.
The first was about the NFL. I love football so I follow it all year long. This year the offseason is all about a possible lockout by the owners and potentially no football in the fall. The owners and the players cannot agree on how to divide up 8 billion dollars of revenue. The median salary of a NFL player is 1.4 million for a season. The players believe they are being cheated. Describing the player’s economic situation one player this week was quoted saying "it's modern-day slavery, you know." Wow… what a way to describe a 1.4 million dollar salary.
The second story highlighted families living in hotels as a result of the economy and unemployment. It was heart breaking as the reporter talked to all the children whose school bus picked them up at the hotel each morning. Their parents were not lazy or unwilling to work but never imagined that they would be where they are. Their children did not wish for a new smart phone or the latest clothes but rather stability and a place to call home.
In 2008, the first year of the great recession one million people lost their homes. The average unemployed worker is out of work for 37 weeks. This economic pain has been great for those who are unemployed or underemployed.
Hearing both of these stories just minutes apart I was gripped by how unaware we can be of what is going on in the lives of others. The sharp contrast of poverty and affluence reminded of the neighborhood I once drove through when I lived in Dallas. At one end of the street was well kept large old homes guarded by a gated entrance and just beyond the clearly marked gate was similarly built homes which were not well kept. These homes indicated a distinct economic distinction. Those inside were poor and each home was now an apartment house. The close proximity of the poor and the wealthy is a good reminder that God is very concerned for how we respond to the needs of the poor. In the middle of his suffering Job acknowledged that concern for the poor is at the heart of God. Have I not wept for the unfortunate? Was not my soul grieved for the poor? Job 30:25. Are we concerned about the poor? Are we concerned about economic justice? I think God is.
I know that the Lord defends the cause of the oppressed and vindicates the poor. Psalm 140:12
Sounds like economic justice to me. Stay tuned for more.