I grew up and live in the South, an area of the world where the Church preaches Truth loud and proud. I noticed that whenever I mentioned the term “justice”, it was almost equated with cussing, or at least with “that’s what all them liberals care about! We preach the Truth!” But, as I developed my own mind toward Scripture, I found out the connection between helping the oppressed and preaching Truth is amazingly tied together.
Just as evangelism and worship are in a church’s DNA, and these concepts shoot through every ministry, justice really ought to be the same. That would mean that it would be difficult for someone to come to faith in Jesus and not have their worldview affected by the concept of justice.
For so long the Church has been taught to BE good instead of DO good.
A revolution of justice and an awakening of hope for the oppressed is needed, and it’s coming.
One of the reasons many of my friends don’t go to church anymore is not the typical reasons: hypocrites, judgmental, etc. But what has shocked me is how they respond by saying that “the church just does not seem to care about the hurting or the oppressed. They never seem to want to link arms with other non-profit organizations to make a greater impact”. But those churches who are involved in justice are generally both courageous and willing to engage these issues around them with enough humility to come alongside organizations that have been working for justice in their communities for a long time.
“Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream.”
But here is the problem-when you get to a place of enough affluence in your life or your culture, you work hard to insulate yourself from any sort of danger or suffering around you. And when you do that, your worldview changes. You stop seeing the need in the world as it actually is.
For Christians, the problem goes even deeper. Once we insulate and isolate ourselves from injustice- related suffering in the world, then we actually stop seeing it in the Scriptures. We read the Scriptures differently because we don’t see those things going on in the world. David wrote many of his psalms while he was on the run from someone trying to kill him; a lot of the justice language and concepts in the psalms escape us, because we don’t know that that is still going on in the world. It’s a self-reinforcing spiral: because we don’t see it in the world, we don’t read it in the Scriptures, and because we don’t read it in the Scriptures we don’t look for it in the world.
The big surprise is that it really is about deepening discipleship in churches. The church becomes irrelevant when you disconnect it from the most meaningful problems in the world. To reconnect ourselves with some of the most significant challenges in our world today will be for us to actually be called by God to a place where our discipleship deepens and we find life and meaning and purpose.
*Read “The Just Church” by Jim Martin for a balanced approach to preaching Truth and living out justice.