Recently a new book came out by the vice president of International Justice Mission. IJM, has been a fundamental leader in both the anti-slavery movement and other justice issues.
Here are the book’s details:
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Tyndale Momentum (September 21, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1414371284 ISBN-13: 978-1414371283
As you can probably guess by both the title and the source, yes, this book is about bringing justice on earth. Of course not everyone is passionate about justice. I have a few friends that will get in people’s faces, fighting for justice when they don’t see it happening. That is spectacular to watch. But most of us think “Ya, justice in nice. . . so what is for dinner?”
But we all care about justice when something doesn’t seem fair to us. I don’t think we’ve ever been promised fair lives. Still, we are called to help justice prevail for those without power and for whom no one listens to. And I also agree that this is something the Church (Christians of all types) needs to embrace.
But, although I liked the idea of this book, I wasn’t exactly sure how it was really that much different than some of the others by IJM, like Good News About Injustice: A Witness of Courage in a Hurting World or Just Courage: God’s Great Expedition for the Restless Christian.
Really, why should I read this book as opposed to the others?
As I was already questioning of the worthwhile-ness of reading The Just Church, I was also having a really hard time reading it. I was still pretty sure the content was excellent. But it is serious. I can read novels and fiction in a whirlwind. But I really struggle getting through non-fiction, especially when they are written in a way that feels like I am reading the transcribed sermon of a pastor explaining a fact-based university program.
No offense, Jim.
Eventually I admitted to myself that I was NEVER going to read it, almost passing it on to someone else. Then a third option presented itself- skimming. Oooh! Skimming! How fun! And that, my friends, was worthwhile.
Stuff I liked about The Just Church:
I loved that it had QR Codes for smart phones and the like to make the book more tactile and multi-media. Fun! Yes, you can go from chapter to chapter in anticipation of the QRC.
I really liked the call to be humble. Too often churches make a plan on their own to do their own “helpful” thing around the world, but these plans actually might not be the best move. Thankfully, The Just Church tells you to not do that. Kudos!
It reminds us that making a difference requires effort and investment. Being a just church is not something that happens immediately. Sorry, guys.
The appendix had a delightful set of verses on justice in the Bible, among other useful appendix-y things.
Also, the appendix included more than justice based verses. It had a section titled “A Brief Survey of Violent Injustice in the Scriptures” including the abuse of prisoners, rape, land seizure, and verses on how slavery is also a negative in the Bible. I was surprised to learn some new stuff in this section.
Did you know that justice happens to be the second most talked about issue in the Old Testament?
The Bottom Line:
The reason this book is different than others is that it actually helps you do something. It gives churches a tangible and methodical guide on how to create justice focused groups in your church.
Having been part of the creation of different task-focused groups hoping to make a difference in the world, I can say he actually really gave a great plan. In fact, I am now planning on checking to make sure the anti-human trafficking task force I am part of is held to the standard Jim Martin raised, a standard of excellence.
Lastly, the other winning aspect of this book is that it actually expects you to grow spiritually. It’s not just a good Christian book. The whole point of it is to create disciples of Jesus who actually follow Him and are transformed in doing so. From my perspective, having been a “professional Christian,” I was impressed with the way this book actually leads us rather than just tells us what we should embrace.
Yes, I actually probably was skimming through a transcribed sermon of a pastor explaining a fact-based university program. Even so, not too long into my “skim” I started feeling like this guy was my pastor and actually cared about me. Now that my skim is done, I have started back at the beginning to actually really read this book.
I guess The Just Church isn’t just rhetoric. As a disciple of Jesus, it expects you to respond to the truth presented. It calls you to act and it actually practically shows you how. If you are part of the Church or are a leader in the church, this just might be one of the best books you can read to help you become a useful advocate.
You can download the first chapter here for free: www.TheJustChurch.com