“In those days there was no king in Israel; each one did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25 LEB).
Our problems start with each person doing what is right in his or her own eyes. Justice, mercy, and reconciliation should not just be buzzwords—they should be ideals we live by. We must live by God’s views of equality and the value of human life. God’s ways must be our ways.
Our world seems unstable. Each person seems to do what is right in his or her own eyes. But it is not as if our God has stopped talking. God is still enthroned in heaven—we just need to give him room in our lives here on earth.
Sometimes it helps to take a step back and think about the God we serve. I think of what God said to Job:
“Where were you at the my laying the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you possess understanding. Who determined its measurement? … Or who stretched the measuring line upon it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars were singing together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4–7 LEB).
If we serve a God who can establish the earth, what can he not do? Certainly this God can reconcile people. Certainly this God can establish justice, bring mercy, and teach us to walk humbly before him (Micah 6:8). Certainly this God can bring stability to our unstable world.
The beginning of reconciliation is the recognition that we do not truly understand where others are coming from. But that should not stop us from attempting to empathize. I regularly think of my experience as a child who could not speak correctly—and being discriminated against simply for my speech impediment. It helps me to feel a little bit of what my brothers and sisters living on the underside of power feel. It helps me empathize.
Yet I also recognize that I still don’t know what it is like to be someone else. I can empathize, but I shouldn’t pretend to understand another person’s full experiences.
Truly loving other people demands action. When we witness people discriminated against, we must desire change and advocate for it, or we lack love. When we hear about people being needlessly killed, because of hatred, we must show love to fight the hatred. When we see the poverty in our world—and realize that we have the resources to alleviate it—we must act. If we ignore it, we show ourselves to lack love.
“No one has greater love than this: that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13 LEB).
And who should our friends be? And who should our neighbors be? The citizens of this earth, created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). We should love others to the point of being willing to give up our very lives for them.