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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

. I Care About Social Justice.


Social Justice.

Those two words are so polarizing. No doubt reading those words triggers something inside of you. Perhaps you cringe, roll your eyes, sigh, and think to yourself, while alarm bells go off in your head, Oh, dear, here she goes again on another one of her radical crusades. And I get that, I was standing right in your shoes only a short while ago. I wanted nothing to do with those Christian "radicals" fighting for justice. After all they had to be liberals and wolves in sheep clothing in order to care about things like social justice. Or perhaps upon reading those words, you pump your fist in the air, your heart races, and you think to yourself Yes, finally she is talking about this again. This will be another post that I can actually stand behind!

I understand those two words are loaded. I understand that there is some political tension behind the words, and that they likely mean different things for different people. In order to put us all on the same page for this post, this is how I define {biblical} social justice: the God-given responsibility of every believer to stand up for and protect people who suffer from social injustices - people who are in less fortunate situations than we have been graced with, and the need to compassionately care for and advocate for, the needs of these people, all for the sake of the Gospel and advancing the kingdom.

I know that definition is still broad, but I feel as if we need to start biblically defining it. It is time that Christians stop letting the world define social justice for us. I believe in doing that, we have missed out on a large chunk of the Gospel, because it has caused many of us to ignore social justice altogether. We have been scared off by the world's definition of it. This should not be a political movement or the government's job. The command to care for the least of these {social justice} was given to the church (Matthew 25:40). Simply because I am a child of God, I cannot ignore the least of these - here or abroad.

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I really began delving into social justice and what the Bible had to say when the Spirit convicted us of the orphan crisis and God's desire for our family to adopt. God started opening my eyes to the needs of orphans and widows, and I began understanding his definition of pure religion was directly tied into social justice.

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. James 1:27

Two years ago our Pastor preached through the book of James, and it began to turn my world inside out. For the first time, my heart was pliable, and the book of James really began to convict me, especially with verses like this one:

 Obey God's message! Don't fool yourselves by just listening to it. James 1:22

Like I said, I discovered that pure religion is directly tied to social justice - caring for orphans and widows. In order for my religion to be seen as pure by God, I had to actually do something. However, the desire to do something needed to come from a heart overflowing with love for my God and a burning desire to share the Gospel. Social justice that is not God-centered and Gospel-centered and done merely to check another "Christian duty" off the list, or even worse, done to make me look better to those around me, falls flat and does not advance the kingdom. Without the energy of the Gospel and a driving love for God, and a humble, broken heart, social justice is meaningless and fleeting.

I began investigating further, as it seemed as if I was starting to better comprehend the heart of God. And of course I found verse after verse after verse that pointed to the fact that God passionately cares about issues of social justice. It flows through the entire Bible saturating every book. And if this is something that God is so passionate about, then perhaps I should be passionate about it as well.

Then, just yesterday, as I was pouring my heart out to my Father on behalf of a fatherless child, whom I dearly love and want to see come to know Jesus as His Savior, the Spirit pointed a new truth out to me. Here are the passages that I shared yesterday and that pierced my heart.

I’ll tell you what it really means to worship the LORD. Remove the chains of prisoners who are chained unjustly. Free those who are abused! Share your food with everyone who is hungry; share your home with the poor and homeless. Give clothes to those in need; don’t turn away your relatives. Then your light will shine like the dawning sun, and you will quickly be healed. Your honesty will protect you as you advance, and the glory of the LORD will defend you from behind. When you beg the LORD for help, he will answer, “Here I am!” (Isaiah 58: 6-8)

If you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the poor, your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight. I will always show you where to go. I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places - firm muscles, strong bones. You'll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You'll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again. (Isaiah 58:10-12)

Did you notice what I noticed? Right off the bat in this passage, we learn what God thinks true worship is. And guess what?

Just like Pure religion, true worship is connected to social justice! It seems as if God's heart for the least of these is just jumping off the pages of Scripture at me. I was blind to it for a long, long time. It seems to me as if Christians should be leading the social justice parade - defining it biblically - and living it out in a God-centered and Gospel-centered way. We are a living, breathing, walking example of the Gospel and Jesus in our lives, and we are this example when we care for the least of these, when we advocate for the voiceless, when we fight against injustice being done to our fellow mankind, when we turn orphans into sons and daughters, when we provide for the needs of widows, and when we start passionately caring about these issues that are so close to the heart of our Father.

I long for pure religion and true worship to be true of my life. I desire for my heart to be connected to the things that matter to God's heart, and it appears that social justice matters a great deal to my Father. And simply because of that, I care about social justice.


What are your thoughts on social justice and how Christians should respond to it or interact with it? I would love to hear your thoughts, as long as we all play nicely and graciously!


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