To most, Justice and Mercy are contradictory. In life, we expect either justice or mercy, but not both at the same time.
Yet the God who loves justice (Psalm 11) is also a God full of mercy and lovingkindness (Psalm 86:5). How can this be? We see the answer in Jesus Christ. Because He is just, God judges our guilt. Then in His mercy and love, He provides a way out: by coming down in the person of Jesus Christ, His Son, and pays the penalty for us. Through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, God is both just and merciful.
Deacons model and demonstrate compassion (mercy) to those who are hurting; they provide hope and encouragement. At the same time, Deacons do justice by leading and encouraging their congregations to be advocates for and with the marginalized and vulnerable people in their local community.
What is Mercy?
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, we see the essence of Jesus' teaching on mercy. An attitude of mercy says: "What's mine is yours if you need it." In a nutshell, mercy is love in action. In all of their tasks, Deacons demonstrate in word and deed the care of the Lord himself.
What is Justice?
Justice, at its centre, is about relationships: our relationships with God, with each other, with ourselves, and with creation. God calls us — and Deacons especially — to restore relationships through the pursuit of justice, and to challenge lifestyles, choices and systems so that all may have the opportunity to participate fully in community as image-bearers of God.
Diaconal Ministries has partnered with several Christian Reformed agencies to inspire and equip deacons in the area of mercy and justice:
- Office of Social Justice
- Centre for Public Dialogue
- Canadian Indigenous Ministry Committee
- Citizens for Public Justice
- Generous Space Ministries
- World Renew
- Disability Concerns
If you’d like to speak to someone about a justice issue in your community, reach out to the Christian Reformed Church’s Justice Mobilizer, Cindy Stover.
Here are some resources to get you started.
"In imitation of Christ’s mercy, deacons teach us to love God, our neighbours, and the creation with acts of generous sharing, joyful hospitality, thoughtful care, and wise stewardship of all of God’s gifts. Deacons offer holistic responses that respect the dignity of all people, working to change exploitative structures and systems, equipping the church for ministries of reconciliation and peacemaking, and seeking opportunities for advocacy.”
Form for the Ordination of Elders & Deacons, 2016
“Justice without mercy is cruelty. Mercy without justice is the mother of all dissolution.”
What is Justice?
A basic introduction to the deacon's role in advocating for justice.
Learn About Biblical Advocacy
Explore how to identify a situation in your community that is unjust and requires action.
3 Steps to Pursuing Justice in Your Church
Learn how to become aware, assess situations, and act for justice.
Ten Ways to Do Justice
A handout from the Office of Social Justice and Faith Formation Ministries.
The DoJustice Blog
Do Justice is a conversation starter for justice in the Christian Reformed Church. Believing we are better together, they aim to find new ideas and perspectives and share better ways to engage in justice work, while remembering our motivation and growing our faith.
Youth & Justice
Our NewGround Program includes an Annual Youth Justice Initiative. This initiative will help reach a new generation of justice-seekers and inspire them to get involved in their communities. Youth will find innovative ways to address an injustice in their community with the help of grant money and coaching, and by working with the deacons in their church.