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Illuminate: The Gospel & Social Justice

January 22, 2014 by Nick Sherman 2 comments

Posted in: Illuminate

How does the gospel illuminate social justice?

More clearly than anything else the Gospel displays the character of God. The Gospel displays His character in magnificent ways that we would do well not to miss. The Gospel is the truth that God has eternally rescued us sinners from Himself through the punishment of His Son Jesus on the cross. In this act of pure love we see the grace and mercy of God inseparably married to the righteousness and justice of God in order to bring us salvation. We see love and holiness, sacrifice, commitment and determination alongside kindness, compassion, and care.

503556-martin-luther-king-617-409The Gospel shows us that the heart of God is filled with social concern that acts on our behalf all while maintaining an unwavering commitment to justice. This same heart is what God desires to see His children express in the world, according to His will for the purpose of His glory. Social Justice at its finest is simply the heart of God being lived out in the world through His people for His glory. In light of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday this week, let’s look at three ways we can express God’s heart in regards to social justice.

 

1. Do Justice – He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? - Micah 6:8

God loves justice. He is unrelentingly just in all that he does. In the Gospel we see this justice displayed through the punishment of His Son. As believers one way we can express social justice in the world is simply to do justice. To do justice is simply to express God’s love for justice and hatred of injustice in the social marketplace. This could take many forms.

One way is always acting in accord with the law of the land insofar as we are able to do so while maintaining the laws of God. This could mean simple things such as, driving the speed limit; paying for the goods we receive, being honest on our taxes or with government assistance programs. This could also mean more complex things like moving into an area where drugs and violence persist in order to do justice for the community, or creating rallies or protest to stand against various forms of injustice.

Doing justice can also mean being involved in the political process; including voting, electing judges and public officials that will maintain justice, or becoming a public official. It may mean pursuing a career in law enforcement as a police officer or a lawyer or encouraging our children to do so. Expressing God’s love for justice in the social marketplace may also mean standing up and speaking out when we see injustice. This may be as simple as holding a conversation with known drug dealers in your neighborhood or working alongside the police to maintain safety and justice in our neighborhoods. However this plays out in our lives the Gospel displays that we are to be actively involved in doing justice.

What are some of the injustices of the world that you're aware of?

2. Defending the Defenseless – Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. - Isaiah 1:17

As we consider the Gospel we cannot miss the fact that God has a special place in His heart for the defenseless, poor and marginalized in society. The Gospel displays Jesus leaving the security and peace of the presence of God to take up the cause of salvation for those who had no other hope. In the Gospel we see Jesus, being rich, making himself poor in order to reach us, the poor. Jesus, God in the flesh, literally made himself “nothing” in order to rescue us poor, miserable, defenseless sinners. This sacrifice has HUGE implications on how God desires us to come to the defense of those who cannot defend themselves.

DS14645lg This can look like being advocates for and a safe haven to women in the sex trade. We can fight for the children in the world who are disenfranchised through adoption or supporting Christian agencies that do so. We can feed the hungry and provide shelter for the homeless. This can look like providing for the needs of widows or standing up for those who are bullied and defenseless.

This is who God is to us. We are all defenseless against sin, Satan and death without the love of Jesus Christ. We must express this same love we receive in order to glorify God. This shows the world that there is a God who defends the defenseless.

  

Who in society would you consider defenseless?

 

3. Racial Reconciliation – "After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb."- Revelation 7:9

The Gospel displays a racial inclusivity that is all too rare in many churches today. Jesus died to save people from every nation, tribe and tongue. We shall all worship together before the throne and the Lamb in heaven. We should work toward seeing this particular expression of God’s love in the world today.flesh-colored-crayons

For this to become a reality all of God’s children must recognize the need for and blessing of racial diversity in our churches. This deepens the love we have for God and one another. It gives us the opportunity to thank God for the unique nuances he has applied to different cultures of people. Seeing the beauty in God’s creation is always a cause for praise! It also gives us the opportunity to celebrate our uniqueness together through a gained knowledge of our cultural differences, thus creating a further fulfillment of the second and greatest commandment.

Challenges to this reality exist today, however there are ways to work toward seeing this expressed in our local congregations.

  1. Acknowledge the need for and blessing of racial diversity in your church, pray that God might develop greater diversity in your church.
  2. Admit, if any, your unfamiliarity of other cultures then talk to Christian brothers and sisters from differing cultural backgrounds and learn from them.
  3. Have a willingness to share the gospel with someone who doesn’t look like you.
  4. Visit a church that is primarily different in regards to culture.
  5. Be willing and active in sacrificing your cultural preferences for the encouragement and celebration of other cultural preferences.

How might God use you as an agent of racial reconciliation?

 

The Gospel illuminates our lives. Jesus is the light of life. The Gospel illuminates social justice by being the framework and standard for how we look at and live out social justice. I pray that the Lord Jesus Christ continues to guide us to new heights in living a Gospel centered life.

2 Comments

I attend a predominately white congregation church, yet I feel reasonably comfortable because I was raised to be confident in my own skin. The challenge to fight injustice is a call to the soldiers of Christ to not be cowardly and to put on the whole armor of God. Stand for Christ, stand for what is righteously right despite color, creed, or nationality. We are all Gods children

Joyce O. on Jan 23, 2014 at 10:29pm

I was really challenged and moved by this post. God is loving, and God is just. How often I turn a blind eye to injustice, when I feel compelled in my heart to speak out against it. I really appreciate your perspective also regarding racial diversity in the church. The beauty that comes from a multicultural congregation is just a glimpse of heaven's throne. Praying for even more racial, economic, and age diversity as SCC continues to grow and reach the community. We have so much to learn from the Body!

Natalie on Jan 22, 2014 at 2:01pm

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