Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Book Review: Pursuing Justice by Ken Wytsma

When I was working toward my Bachelor's degree at Lee University, I was constantly bombarded with 'social justice' on all sides. This group was looking for volunteers; that group was having a charity bake sale. In addition, part of my graduation requirement was to do a certain amount of 'service hours' volunteering with different groups or organizations. Honestly, the culture of good causes surrounding me kind of left me jaded. It all made me wonder whether social justice was simply a fad. I understood the need for justice (if only partially), but outside of the culture that was created there I had no idea how it all worked out in the real world. How is justice done? Or more accurately, how does one live out a life of justice? Then came along Ken Wytsma's book, Pursuing Justice.

I have to admit, when I first started reading, I had low expectations. I half expected the book to simply be about why we need justice; filled with proof texts, buzz words, and vague definitions. But that couldn't have been farther from the truth. Wytsma doesn't just explain what justice is and why it is important (and biblically mandated). He does this (extensively and eloquently), but also describes how to to do justice, and more important, how to live a life defined by justice.

I first began to understand the depth of the book when I began to page through the contents. When I saw chapters such as "Stained Glass: When Religion Gets in the Way of Justice" and "Compassion Can Kill: Wisdom and Accountability in Charitable Giving" I knew that this book would be more than just buzz words and proof texts. Pursuing Justice is not just filled with bare facts, but educated biblical exegesis, historical background, and anecdotes from his personal faith journey.

From the very first chapter my fears were eased. In it, he presents a question that summed up exactly how I felt towards the topic of justice: "If I want to pursue justice with my life, how and where should I start?" This is the point from which he starts and finishes. He concludes,

Jesus says that in seeking my life I will lose it, but in losing my lifefor his sakeI will find it. I have digested these words. I have proved them with the experiment of my own life. I have discovered happiness and joy in the paradox of giving my life away, just as I am learning to live and die for bigger things.
 Pursuing Justice has a simple, yet entirely deep premise. This is not a feel good book. In fact, many of the stories represent a world full of hurt, pain, and injustice. At times I was moved to the point of tears; at others I was filled with rage. Yet it is also a book about hope. God has called us to live and die for bigger things, and he has given us the grace to fulfill that call on our lives. At the end of the book I was left humbled, energized, and ready for a lifestyle change. Ready to live and die for bigger things.

*I received this book free from the publisher and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I do not profit from any merchandise purchased via links provided. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255. 

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