Pursuing Justice: A Call to Live and Die For Bigger Things is a new book by Ken Wytsma. Wytsma is the lead pastor of Antioch Church in Bend Oregon, the founder of The Justice Conference, and the president of Kilns College.
In having personally served in numerous countries in justice projects and finished my MA with a project on human trafficking, I have read dozens of books on the subject of justice, and Pursing Justice is by far the most comprehensive book I have read. Pursuing Justice is compelling, convicting, rich in theology, and very accessible.
The highlight of Pursuing Justice for me, was how it does such an outstanding job in developing a theological understanding for justice. Typically books in this genre quote a few passages from scripture and rely on statistics and emotional stories to build a reason for “why?” Wytsma goes far beyond quoting a few verses and builds a solid theological foundation for the “why?” of justice through a thorough study of scripture. With that said, scriptural truths are illustrated with stories and moving poetry interludes between chapters.
The exposition of Isaiah 58 in chapter fourteen was brilliant. One of the themes throughout the book is the connection between righteousness and justice. Sadly the church has a long history of separating those two things, but this chapter did a great job in showing how they are one in the same according to God’s purposes.
Here are a few of the many portions of the book that spoke to me:
- Justice is rooted in the character of God, established in the creation of God, mandated by the commands of God, present in the kingdom of God, motivated by the love of God, affirmed in the teaching of Jesus, reflected in the example of Jesus, and carried on today by all who are moved and led by the Spirit (xxii).
- Biblical shalom requires the active pursuit of what ought to be (p. 27).
- When we drive a wedge between righteousness and justice, we separate two things Scripture sees as continuous, overlapping, and even synonymous (p. 98).
- When justice is a duty, it will weigh you down. When justice is the place where you are closest to God, giving your life away becomes your greatest delight (p. 165).
- The ethical demands of God’s love force us into the awkward position of not just changing one or two behaviors, but of reevaluating our entire framework of life. God’s love, on one hand, is overwhelming and crushing; on the other, liberating and joyous (p. 179).
When you take even a surface look at some of the injustices in our world today, like poverty, hunger, and slavery; the whole idea of justice can seem just too overwhelming. Wytsma does a great job calling his readers to not get lost in either being overwhelmed or underwhelmed. There is absolutely hope in this very broken world, not because of who we are, but because of who it is who has called us to live lives of justice.
There’s just no way a follower of Jesus could read this book and not be deeply affected by it. I would recommend this as a first read for anyone looking to study the subject of biblical justice, not because it’s a basic introduction, but because this is exactly the foundation you want to build theologically. I think every pastor, elder board, and missions board should read this book to better inform and inspire their leadership in local church communities.
Pursuing Justice is an incredible book for developing a God honoring understanding of justice, nothing short of a masterpiece on the subject.
For more information on the book, including videos featuring Ken Wytsma, check out the authors website HERE.