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After 31 days of redefining justice, I think the best place to start with practical application is asking, “How’s my relationship with God?” Better yet, asking God how my relationship with Him is.

Based on my new understanding of the concept, justice begins and ends with God and hinges on our relationship with Him. So these are important questions to ask if we’re seeking justice.

To be honest, my relationship with God hasn’t been stellar amidst the 31 days of blogging challenge. I started the challenge seeking to know Him and His leading for each post. But the further I got into it and the more I had to scramble, the less I looked to Him.

Most days, I leaned on my own strength instead and stayed up until 3 a.m. struggling to get the right words out. I’m not saying God wasn’t working in that or would have made it any easier if I’d been more diligently seeking Him. But I think it would have looked different.

Even when I slow down to seek the Lord, I find it difficult not to turn the relationship into a task. This is particularly problematic for me with any sort of Bible reading plan or devotional. I can too easily check each day’s reading off the list, say a formulaic prayer, and never encounter the Lord.

I imagine this contributes to the disillusionment so many have with Christianity. When we’re not walking with the Lord and living in His power, there’s little visible difference between followers of Christ and the rest of the world.

Living in our own strength is not winsome or life giving. It ultimately leads to a Christian performance treadmill not unlike every other performance treadmill. Following God’s commands becomes a measure of success in a world already saturated with means of measurement.

In a desire to move toward Christ, I’ve tried numerous ways of seeking Him. I’ve tried the lectio divina where I slowly read through a short passage multiple times, stopping to meditate on a verse when it strikes me.

I’ve listened to praise songs and written down each word that resonates with me, then written a psalm using those key words.

I briefly practiced the inductive Bible study method, where you mark common words in a particular way – like circling nouns, starring verbs, underlining emotions – and consider the facts of a passage to move toward interpreting their meaning.

I’ve found word studies particularly helpful, where I read the passages surrounding every occurrence of a particular word in Scripture.

Each approach has helped at different times. But what consistently makes all the difference is shifting focus from me to God. In the past year, I’ve been learning to listen to God rather than always trying to talk to Him; to focus on Him in prayer instead of on my requests and emotions; and to be in His presence rather than attempting to do things to get to know Him more.

I’ve been learning to abide in Christ.

As John 15:4 records Jesus saying, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”

Abiding in Christ is how we bear fruit that contributes to lasting, biblical justice. It is how we understand the character and relationships to which He calls us, and how we move toward living out His original intentions for the world.

We know justice by knowing the Lord. And we know the Lord by doing justice.