Bible Study: The Joy of Justice

WICC President Shirley DeMerchant

WICC President Shirley DeMerchant

A Message from Our President

The Joy of Justice

 

There is excitement in the air as we celebrate this 100-year milestone! There have been many changes in our world and in WICC over those years and there will be more changes to come. However, what will not change is WICC’s commitment to social justice.

Pursuing justice, though, is not for the faint of heart! It can be exhausting. There is so much to do.

It can be frustrating. Not everyone wants to listen or change.

Seeking justice can leave us feeling unappreciated. Our efforts may go unnoticed. We ourselves may not even see tangible results of our prayers and efforts.

How can we continue when justice work is so challenging?

Look to Jesus. First of all, look at the mission he committed his life to accomplish as expressed in Luke 4:18,19:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the
captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.

Jesus saw his mission as releasing captives in every aspect of life – spiritual, physical, emotional and relational. What kept him going when he faced obstacles and opposition? Joy.

Rally on Parliament Hill demanding an end to the poverty and violence experienced by women, October 15, 2000.

Rally on Parliament Hill demanding an end to the poverty and violence experienced by women, October 15, 2000.

Bible Study

Joy In Perseverance

Hebrews 12 begins by encouraging us to, “run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross….”(vv.1b-2)

I have always marvelled at this description of Jesus—facing the cross with joy.

How is it possible to face pain and hardship with joy? Jesus gave an example of a common human experience of joy arising out of pain.

“When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world.” (John 16:21)

If joy can be experienced from physical pain how much more joy can result from our pursuit of God’s purposes for a just world?

Christian Joy

When the Bible speaks of joy, it speaks of something that is unique to the believer.

One commentator on the use of joy in scripture writes:

The distinguishing characteristic of the Judeo-Christian religion is joy…which contrasts with the pessimism and despair of first-century paganism…pagan occurrences of the word are so rare, and…pagan joy is never that of the soul. (Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, Ceslas Spicq and James Ernest, “Joy,” Logos Bible Software)

We can claim that Christian joy is unique because of its source.

Galatians 5:22-23 describes nine fruit of the Spirit. The list begins with love, followed by joy. Christian joy is the result of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. Our source of joy is supernatural, so it is possible to experience joy even in the midst of hardship, pain and great challenges.

Jesus experienced joy by choosing to persevere and to stay committed to his mission. We too can choose perseverance. Our reward will be joy.

Secondly, consider how Jesus carried out his mission.

When Jesus ministered to people he gave them more than they expected. He gave them joy.

Here are just three encounters with people that resulted in joy:

  1. Restoring the widow’s son to life (Luke 7:11-15). In her grief the most this woman could have hoped for from Jesus was sympathy. Instead he restored her son’s life.
  2. The woman at the well (John 4:1-42). This broken woman was ostracized and rejected by others. She came looking for water but Jesus gave her the water of life which she helped others to find as well.
  3. The woman caught in adultery (John 8:3-11). This woman was condemned to die by stoning. She would have expected Jesus, a Jewish man, to condemn her as well. However, he offered her forgiveness and a new life.

Jesus’ disciples carried out his mission in the same way. In Acts 3, a man who had been crippled from birth begged Peter and John to give him money. Instead, they healed him so that he entered the temple, “walking and leaping and praising God” (Acts 3:8).

It has never been more important for WICC to seek to restore hope to women touched by injustice. It is difficult work, but it can also be joy-filled work! Choosing to persevere will result in joy. Relying upon the Holy Spirit will produce joy in our lives. By expecting God to meet people’s greatest needs through our efforts, joy will be their reward.

Rev. Shirley DeMerchant is the president of WICC. She lives in Woodstock, NB.

 


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