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Day 4: We are called to reconcile human
relationships throughout society
as acts of kingdom building.

Read Habakkuk 1–2, Isaiah 58, and Psalm 37:1–20.

Have you ever found yourself asking God the same questions Habakkuk asked? “Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?”

After we are reconciled to God, the second relationship in need of repair is our relationships with other people. There is evidence all around us that human relationships are broken, from the existence of war, human trafficking, and murder, to broken marriages, estranged relationships with our kids, and bitterness toward a neighbor. Instead of responding in despair, God invites us once again to take on an eternal perspective, see the world the way He does, and come alongside Him to participate in His works of restoration.

When engaging with the broken world around us, the Church has long questioned whether to prioritize works of social justice or evangelism and discipleship. Some have erred by pursuing social impact while neglecting the sharing of the gospel; others focus tremendous effort on evangelism but fail to address the needs of “the least of these” in their communities. We believe both are equally important. God is a God of justice, and His kingdom is built by reconciling both humans to God (evangelism) and humans to society (social justice). Both of these require humility; “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Phil. 2:3–4).

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, God is able to look at us and see His son instead of our sin. God is able to see the potential of redemption—the divine spark—in every person. Sin is the deception of the enemy on display in our behavior; it does not identify who we are meant to be. This is also true of human traffickers. Even in a heinous crime, the perpetrator both inflicts injustice and is himself a victim of injustice because he has been deceived by a spiritual enemy intent on destruction. We are all image-bearers of Christ, subverting and obscuring the expression of His image in our lives in various ways. Yes, violent criminals reflect less of Jesus’ image and nature than you and I do, but that is because they have accepted a lie from the enemy about who they are and what value they and other humans have.

This in no way condones, explains, or justifies the crime of the trafficker, but if we are going to have the mind and heart of God and seek shalom instead of false justice, we need to direct our anger and enmity toward a spiritual foe, not a human being. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12). False justice is satisfied if the violent criminal is punished and put in prison, the more painful the better. Shalom extends love to the trafficker, even while administering justice that results in prison.

For example, one of our most effective transit monitoring stations has an innovative investigator on staff who has been very successful in getting known traffickers arrested and sent to prison. This station is led by a local pastor who decided to start a prison ministry to share the gospel with the very traffickers he was helping put in jail. Imagine that—a love so rooted in Christ that rescuing victims and convicting traffickers was not enough; he wanted to fight for justice by leading traffickers into reconciliation with God! This is a glimpse of shalom even as these men celebrated their rebirth from behind bars.


A Prayer for Today's Study from Across the Globe

Written by Doug Dworak, LJI Global Ambassador: 

Jesus, my sovereign Lord and King, there have been so many times in my life when I have found it extremely difficult to comprehend the contrast between the depth of my sin and Your overwhelming grace. Your willingness to reconcile someone like me to You, a holy God, is so incredibly humbling and yet so eternally freeing. Thank You that Your perfect justice is being fulfilled through the gospel of Jesus Christ. And thank You that our reconciliation to You has brought us one step closer to shalom—as You continue to put all things right on earth as they are in heaven.    

But let justice flow like water, and righteousness, like an unfailing stream" (Amos 5:24).


Reflection Questions

  • How might the world be different if the Church actively pursued shalom?
  • What role does mercy play in our pursuit of justice? 
  • Given the prison ministry story you read today, what is the difference between societal justice and spiritual justice?



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