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The Economy of Order: Justice Requires Love

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Jean Valjean in “Ep. 4: The Economy of Order”

“Seeking justice isn’t a matter of designing the right programs or delivery systems… Seeking order means acting in accord with a true vision of our brothers and sisters.” –Evan Koons

American society and public discourse seem to be stuck in a state of feverish discord, rightly concerned with severe acts and systems of injustice, even as we continue to dig deeper cultural divides over everything from healthcare to sexual ethics, race relations to religious liberty, immigration to foreign policy.

As Evan Koons asks in Episode 4 of For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles: “How are we to operate with so much hurt, so much dysfunction in the world? What hope is there for justice?”

When we consider the Economy of Order, it can be intimidating to even think about enacting change. Government, policy, and the big bureaucratic food chain that supports it all don’t necessarily tend  toward inspiring optimism, patience, and trust.

But although Christians surely have a role to play in properly using and stewarding those levers of power, Koons concludes the episode with a closing letter that focuses on a more fundamental and far-reaching notion of justice — that of rightly relating to our neighbors, communities, and institutions, and approaching each with the love of Christ. “Here’s the key,” Koons says. “Justice needs a face.” 

For a limited time, you can watch an excerpt of the letter here:

Yes, God created the world to have order, and yes, in a broken world we need curators of that order — governing bodies to cultivate the conditions for the various spheres of society to flourish in the ways they know best. Yes, this is true. But seeking justice must always be personal, and this means investment. It means vulnerability. It means hospitality. Not just to the members of the household of faith, but to the stranger…

…Justice requires love, because you won’t have justice unless you remember the image of God in each person. Unless you remember each person’s dignity as a glorious, creative, capable gift to the world, Unless you are willing to give yourself away to keep that memory alive. But we must do more than just remember the dignity of all, and especially the stranger. We must welcome the stranger, make a space for him in our lives, to make a place at our tables for that gift in whom God himself delights.

As we continue fighting against individual or systemic oppression or dysfunction, let us remember that along with the fight to change the system at the top, God has given us the wisdom, relational capacity, and, above all, love and grace to begin repairing the fragments of society at the ground level.

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Joseph Sunde is an associate editor and writer for the Acton Institute. His work has appeared in venues such as The Federalist, First Things, The Christian Post, The Stream, Intellectual Takeout, Foundation for Economic Education, Patheos, LifeSiteNews, The City, Charisma News, The Green Room, Juicy Ecumenism, Ethika Politika, Made to Flourish, and the Center for Faith and Work. Joseph resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and four children.

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