Justice and healing are integral aspects of God’s kingdom. As such, they are foundational to God’s mission as history is moving towards the fulfillment of God’s kingdom on earth.
From the beginning of creation, God desired life, and life that was flourishing. When God made the world, God nurtured the world even before humanity was created. “When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens…streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground…now God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden…and the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground,” (Gen 2:4b, 6, 8a, 9a). God is the great gardener who tends creation, nurturing and providing for it so that it may flourish.
This is the state of justice in which God created the world: as a just God, God nurtures creation into a state of flourishing. In other words, the justice of God is the flourishing of creation.
The justice of God is the flourishing of creation.Tweet
Mae Cannon defines justice as “right action – doing the right thing,” (Cannon, Social Justice Handbook). But how does one know what the right action is? How do we know if we are doing the right thing?
Actions are right when they follow the lead of God, when they bring Godly flourishing to creation.
Then God created humanity – in the image of God – to participate with God in the nurturing of creation. “Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed…the Lord God took man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it,” (Gen 2:8, 15). God created humanity to take part in God’s justice. God created humanity to take part in the flourishing of all things.
God created humanity to take part in God’s justice.Tweet
Instead of participating in God’s justice, humanity brings brokenness. Instead of bringing about the flourishing of creation, humanity brings curses upon creation.
In response to this, God heals in order to restore God’s justice for the world. In this healing, God also desires the restoration of humanity’s participation in God’s justice. This is why, at the beginning of Israel’s re-formation as God’s people after God delivers them from the oppression of Egypt, God tells them, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you,” (Exod 15:26, italics added).
God desires to continue healing the Israelites, and to heal through the Israelites, as they participate in bringing about God’s justice. The same is true for us today. “When we obey Christ, as he obeyed his Father, the authority he exercised will be evidenced in our ministries as well,” (Blue, Authority to Heal, 159).
But when the Israelites worked against God’s justice and brought curses upon the world, God opposed them for the sake of the world’s (and humanity’s) flourishing, just as God opposed the Egyptians.
It is this mission of healing and justice that Jesus proclaims as he begins his ministry. Quoting Isaiah, he declares, “the Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,” (Luke 4:18-19, cf. Isa 61:1-2). Jesus came to bring healing to the curses that humanity brought, and continues to bring, upon the world so that God’s justice might be fully realized across all of creation.
Jesus’ mission of healing and justice inaugurates God’s kingdom of justice where all of creation has been healed. Since “sickness in all its expressions is characteristic of Satan’s pseudokingdom,” (Blue, Authority to Heal, 66), God’s kingdom is one where all sickness has been healed. In God’s kingdom God has planted the tree of life, “and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse.” (Rev 22:2b-3a). Jesus’ mission moves creation towards new creation where God’s justice will once again be fully realized.
Comment with any thoughts, ideas, or questions! I would love to hear what you think!
Books in this post:
- Blue, Ken. “Authority to Heal: Answers for Everyone Who Has Prayed for a Sick Friend.” Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1987.
- Cannon, Mae Elise. “Social Justice Handbook: Small Steps for a Better World.” Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009.