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"...Now and Forever. Amen." Can the Pursuit of Justice be Sustained?

Word Count: 950

I wrote the following blog for Just Love Cambridge, the Cambridge University-wing of a UK Christian student social justice charity whose mission statement is "to inspire and release every Christian student to pursue the biblical call to social justice." Despite having graduated two years ago, it remains my privilege to remain involved with this great organisation, and you can find out more here. You can find the original blog on Just Love Cambridge's blog here.

The blog was written for their Kingdom Come series linking phrases of 'The Lord's Prayer' (known also as the 'Our Father') to the call of justice. This was the final blog of the series on the final words of the prayer.

Though this blog has a more explicit Christian theme, I've tried as with all my blogs to make it as accessible to all regardless of creed or none.


“For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory, Now and Forever. Amen.”

The pursuit of justice is full of idealism. This is only natural as justice must be fundamentally imaginative for justice cannot function without a vision of what the world could be as opposed to what the world is.

The Lord’s Prayer is full of this imaginative justice: “Your Kingdom Come, your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” We see in the prayer a desire to bring the imagery of the unseen but imagined Heaven to the tangible but ordinary (and often disappointing) Earth; and what else is the call of justice but the call to bring Heaven to Earth? Even if our secular age has removed ‘Heaven’ of its spiritual attire, it has not removed its enchantment for the principle remains: it doesn’t have to be like this.

However, the Prayer doesn’t stop there with this hope of a future justice. Rather, it continues to end with the extra-biblical doxology[1] that the Kingdom is already now and forever. This isn’t something we’re just waiting to happen, but something that is happening now and ongoing! It doesn’t have to be like this now, never mind in the future!

Can you feel the revolutionary fire in your belly yet? The vigour coursing through your veins as your imagination is given free rein to totally re-imagine our bleak, imperfect reality as a vision of a just and peaceful world? Or do you instead feel something more akin to apathy, a latent sigh as disappointment and memory reminds you you’ve heard this all before? The vision, the enthusiasm, raised only to be left unfulfilled, inspiration now passed over into discouragement.

‘Idealism’ doesn’t have positive connotations in our culture today. It has left many people disappointed, and is more likely to be used as a criticism than a compliment. Likewise the pursuit of justice, caught up in its idealistic visions, is a fire that frequently seems to be doused by the torrents of life. It’s become a stereotype that young people start out as idealists and end up after their 20s and 30s as ‘realists’ (in other words as at best deflated do-gooders and more usually apathetic well-wishers). After all, the ‘real world’ is tough, brutal and unfair. Shouldn’t we just get used to it instead of trying to change it?

It’s a very good point. Life is tough, it is unfair, and positive change doesn’t come easily. Why bother? In such a reality, can the pursuit of justice—the bringing of Christ’s Kingdom to Earth—be sustained? Can we continue living justly through the discouragements and difficulties of life? Perhaps more pressingly for those entering or in the working world, if we can’t find a ‘justice-y job’, is it even worth pursuing justice when we’re locked in a 9 to 5 grind where we frequently lack both time and energy to do anything?

In short, yes, but how? By being creative with our normal and uniting the ideal with the real.

If justice is characterised by imagination, then it is sustained by imagination tangibly lived out. Grandiose visions of Heaven come to Earth are great, but inspiration on its own is like spewing gallons of petrol on the body of a car and expecting it to start speeding away. That is, unless the petrol is channelled into the engine, the car isn’t going to move. Similarly, inspiration needs to be channelled into practical expression in our daily life if it is to get off the ground. There’s a reason the early generations of disciples who wrote the Lord’s Prayer doxology referred to themselves as ‘followers of the Way’. Following Jesus wasn’t about parroting a list of doctrines they needed to believe, it was about intentionally attuning their everyday lives to the pattern of Christ. They became creative with their normal and so transformed it.

The call is still the same for us today. A relatively profound man once said, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much.”[2] Pursuing justice isn’t just about ending world poverty or signing all nations up to a zero-carbon treaty. It’s also offering back massages to rough sleepers in shelters in Wolverhampton who rarely receive positive human touch. It looks like teachers in Gateshead who give up time in their summer holidays to offer disadvantaged pupils extra lessons and food to prevent them falling behind. Both these initiatives were helped instigated by Just Love alumni. They won’t change the world, but they’ve helped change someone’s world.

When you’re trying to make a difference in the world, it often feels like you’re a wave battering the seashore. Wave after wave hits, and still the rock stays, stubborn and unmoved. Without patience, perseverance and discipline, we very quickly become discouraged and exclaim, “Things will never change!” But come back to that coastline in 10, 20 or 50 years, and I promise you, those rocks will have changed. It takes time, effort, resources and money; it involves cooperation, organisation and monotonous repeat; it requires encouragement, support and community; but what it absolutely needs are people willing to risk living out an imaginative justice that brings Heaven down to Earth. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.


[1] In the Bible, the Lord’s Prayer appears in slightly varied forms. In Matthew 6, the prayer ends with “…and deliver us from evil. Amen,” whilst in Luke 11 it ends with “…and lead us not into temptation.” The common ending today—“For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, now and forever. Amen.”—is a later doxology, the earliest reference of which is in The Didache, an early Christian text on Christian worship that dates from the late 1st/early 2nd century.

[2] Jesus in Luke 16:10

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