Chapter 3 of Gary Haugen’s Just Courage introduces us to “The Surprising Path to Courage.” Though we sense the disconnect between our actual lives and the New Testament vision for the Christian life, we hesitate to cross the gap. Haugen proposes the solution thus: “God is calling his people to a pathway out of fear and triviality through the struggle for justice in his world” (p. 38, author’s emphasis).
Haugen points us to the emphasis on God’s justice in both the OT and the words of Jesus, saying that “in both instances, the first calling on the short list is justice” (p. 39, author’s emphasis).
- Micah 6:8: “to act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
- Matthew 23:23: Jesus rebukes religious leaders of his day for neglecting “the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy, and faithfulness.”
In a vivid and chilling metaphor from suburbia, Haugen describes how the cul-de-sac was intended for safety but turned out to be more dangerous than its predecessor. Instead of protecting children from through-traffic, which was thought to be the danger, the cul-de-sac ended up being more dangerous since children are more often injured by cars backing up (cul-de-sac) than by forward-moving cars (through-streets). Haugen asserts that Western Christianity in large part moved into a relational cul-de-sac in order to protect itself from the dangers of the world. But the effect has been “lethal to the soul”: “spiritual atrophy, mediocrity, and boredom” (p. 44). Jesus’ call is to a “better way,” a grand adventure that is challenging to the core, but healthier for the soul because it is aligned with the mission and heart of God: “seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow” (Isa 1:17).
In seeking justice, the organization that Haugen leads, International Justice Mission, specifically targets abuses of violence against humanity. This is dealt with in the remainder of chapter 3, which will be the subject of the next post in this series.