I have been considering the implications of social justice and what should be the Christian response. On the one hand you have many organisations who are doing amazing work but without the mandate of God’s love. On the other side of the coin you have Churches who share the love of God, but are unwiling to dig deep to find solutions about social justice issues that effect our society. I do realise this is a sweeping statement but I want to get to the heart of God’s character and what he requires from the Church.
I have been very moved by a book I am currently reading by Timothy Keller called ‘Generous Justice.’ Keller is an inspiring pastor in Manhattan New York and an extremely good speaker and writer. I strongly recommend this book to any Christian who has a heart for social justice. Keller says this, “When people see the beauty of God’s grace, it leads them powerfully towards justice.” He is stating that when we truly receive God’s love and understand the amazing gift of forgiveness, we should be looking at our neighbour with completely different eyes.
God’s character is for justice but must be achieved with his love. Micah 6:8 “And what dies the Lord require of you; to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God.” The Hebrew word for mercy means unconditional grace and compassion. With God social justice has a whole new dynamic for the Chrsitian. It becomes part of their being and heart. It is also a mandate from God.
In the bible we see that God has a special relationship with what is known as the ‘Quartet of the Vulnerable’ when justice is mentioned. They are the widows, orphans, immigrants and the poor. God’s agenda towards this quartet is for the Church to show love, generosity and to stand up for social justice. Any neglect shown to the vulnerable is not just a lack of mercy or charity but a violation of God’s justice.
As God’s people when we get involved in helping the vulnerable we want to achieve Social Transformation (Justice) and Spiritual Transformation (God’s love). We not only want to give practical help but at the same time share with people the most important three words that they will ever hear God Loves You.
When I am helping families with debt issues, it soon becomes apparent that debt is only the tip of the iceberg in relation to the problems they face. People and communities are desperate for spiritual healing.
Healing from Hopelessness
Healing from Mistrust
Healing from Isolation
Healing from Fear
Healing from worthlessness
Healing from condemnation
Healing from being unloved
Every single one of us has the capacity to heal someone today. The question is are we prepared to show the mercy that God asks of us?
The justice of a society or indeed the Church according to the bible is evaluated by how it treats the vulnerable. Isaiah 1 and 58 makes this point, when God states that worship is false and worthless when we don’t focus our lives on the vulnerable.
Proverbs 14:31 “If we dishonour the poor we insult God, and when we are generous to the poor we honour God.” This scripture follows the same heart as the text in Matthew 25, when Jesus says that when we serve the least, we are in fact serving and honouring Jesus himself.
I would like to sum up by referring to what I call the three R’s of God’s standard for biblical justice
Right Relationships: Getting right with God leads us to have passion for His people
Radical Generosity: Receiving God’s love leads to a sacrificial generosity of resources, time and love
Rescuing the Vulnerable: Real engagement with the vulnerable and the poor leads to Generous Justice
God’s mandate is for the Church to help the vulnerable fight injustice. In doing so he demands us to act with love, mercy and compassion.