Called to Social Justice

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015 and is filed under Uncategorized

gm3330c-3128017007-o-editAll throughout history we see stories of people who have found ways to be exceedingly cruel to other people. The very first family saw jealously and hatred lead quickly to murder with the story of Cain and Abel. Most of human history is told in terms of conflict, of war, of any one group of people using whatever power they have to exploit another group of people. Of course each story is unique in terms of the people involved and the specifics of the conflict, but underneath it all is the same ugly traits of unredeemed humanity – greed, power, hate, lust, insecurity, and selfishness.

We also have stories throughout history of people who have experienced the forgiveness of God and this forgiveness set them free from slavery to those ugly traits and then compelled them to action on behalf of other people. William Wilberforce, the Evangelical Christian in 19th century England who worked tirelessly to end the evil of legalized slavery. Emily Murphy who in 1929 finally was successful in having the government recognize that women are “persons” in the eyes of the law was an Anglican minister’s wife. Martin Luther King Jr. acted out of his convictions from Scripture and his experience of God’s grace and power to work for equality and justice regardless of race. These are all people who took brave stands against the evils of injustice and made a substantial difference in our world because of their Christian faith.

Jesus was a social revolutionary. In fact, Jesus was the next in a long line of people God used to bring the message of social justice. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah not just for their sexual sin, but also their unjust treatment of the poor. Ezekiel 16:49 “’Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” In the times of the prophets God’s condemnation of His people was not just their idolatry, but their unjust treatment of the poor. For example, Isaiah 1:17 “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” James, the brother of Jesus, defined “pure religion” not just in personal purity, but in just treatment of the poor. James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Social justice is really about confronting the sin we see in our world. “Christianity for Dummies” gives a great definition of sin, “Sin is any deliberate action, attitude, or thought that goes against God… Sin includes both things you shouldn’t have done, but did (sins of commission) and things you should’ve done, but didn’t (sins of omission).” By this definition not confronting social injustice in the world would be a sin of omission because we have been called by God to defend the oppressed. As the Church we must stop being part of the sinful societal realities in our world and begin to be a part of working for justice, for the poor and vulnerable. Social justice in the Christian community is about being the light God has called us to be in our world. We are called to be different…to be separate…to be Holy.

Social Justice from a biblical standpoint calls us to look outwardly, into the places in our world where sin exists and deal with it. How could we possibly call ourselves Christians, followers of Christ, and respond any differently?

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8

– Chantz

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