Gospel Justice: A new book by Bruce D. Strom examining how together we can provide help and hope for those oppressed by legal injustice.
Bruce Strom runs Administer Justice, an American organisation which seeks to provide legal assistance, financial counselling and conflict resolution services to empower the poor and to give hope to the hopeless. Administer Justice works to serve the victims of oppression and injustice by giving them legal help and gospel hope.
Gospel Justice is a series of reflections on the parable of the Good Samaritan. In it Strom shows how lawyers can use our legal qualifications to live out the Great Commandment to love God and love our neighbour as well as fulfilling the Great Commission to evangelise, disciple and serve others.
Strom shows us how all are loved by God, all are made in God's image, and all are in need of the protection of the law. But the poor are especially vulnerable: vulnerable to tragedy, to circumstance, to structural or personal injustice, or the consequences of their own or someone else's folly. Such things can affect anyone in society, but the rich have contingency plans. What the poor need, but cannot afford, is advice and advocacy, help and hope, protection and empowerment. Where legal aid does not exist or is not available, people will be robbed and oppressed, be trapped by injustice or tragedy, unless someone is prepared to come alongside them and help them. That is what Christ calls us to do.
In his book, Strom reveals how God has changed his focus from seeking prosperity for himself to serving the least, the last, and the lost. He shows how serving others and demonstrating mercy and compassion in all that we do is at the heart of our Christian discipleship. Strom calls us to prayer, to giving, and to action.
Although Strom writes from an American context, the issues are increasingly the same in the UK. Like the USA, in most instances the challenge is that the poor lack the access to the legal system and the ability to present their cases in court. Legal aid is available in fewer and fewer cases and pro bono agencies lack the penetration into local communities which the churches have. The church should not be a place for just us, but a place of justice, where the needs of the local community are addressed through Christian service, evangelism and discipleship.
Strom is clear: gospel justice is different from social justice. Within secular law firms, Christians can demonstrate social justice, allowing their faith to transform their actions so that they behave with personal integrity and put the needs of their clients first. However, gospel justice focuses not only on the client's social welfare but on the client's spiritual welfare. Prayer with clients and faith-sharing with clients is part of the service that is offered because it is not just a client's circumstances which need addressing, it is also their heart.
Gospel justice is essential reading. Whether you are just starting your legal career, in the middle of your career and in need of re-discovering your moorings in Christ, or coming up to retirement and wondering how God wants you to use your legal skills in future, this book will soften your heart and give you a new sense of calling.
You can buy a copy of the book here.