Social justice is a buzzword that we drop to show our commitment to fighting injustice in the world. I think that most people are well-intentioned but for many, talking about fighting injustice simply another form of slacktivism that is accompanied by sharing Facebook campaigns and making trendy fair-trade purchases. Unfortunately, it often ends there.
The Bible calls us to take up the cause of the defenseless and to care deeply about the brokenness of the world. Social justice is one of the ways we join God in the work of redeeming creation and restoring it to what He intended in Eden. But while buzzwords fly and slacktivism becomes the norm, we need to make sure that we are approaching social justice from a Biblical perspective.
1. We Are Commanded to Take Up the Cause of the Defenseless by Fighting Injustice
While there is controversy about the role of social justice in the church, Scripture makes it clear that caring for the defenseless is central to true faith.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. – James 1:27, ESV
If we are to live as Jesus modeled and called us to live, we need to be concerned about the needs and welfare of the least of these. Christians need to identify with the afflicted. In Matthew 25, Jesus makes it clear that we need to occupy our time with clothing the naked, giving food to the hungry, and welcoming the stranger. It is not a second-tier mission but something that should define Christians everywhere.
2. We Need to Invest Personally, Both Financially and Emotionally, in Fighting Injustice
One of the common traits of modern first-world activism is to simply open our wallets and feel we’re doing the work God has called us to do. But opening up our wallets is not enough. I know that for myself, there’s quite a lot I would be able to give before I had to truly sacrifice much from my day to day essentials. While I might have to cut back on wants, it would take a lot for my needs to be cut short because of my giving. It’s easy for me to give without truly being invested.
But Jesus doesn’t call me to serve from a distance, He wants me to care about individuals, not just causes. In order to do that, I need to invest my time and emotions. Sometimes, it is harder for me to open up my heart and to give of my time than it is to set up an automatic monthly gift to charity.But Jesus doesn’t call me to serve from a distance, He wants me to care about individuals, not just causes. In order to do that, I need to invest my time and emotions Click To Tweet
Jesus wants us to serve others for Him, as if we are serving Him directly. To do that, we need to see the image of God in each and every person we serve. Because the desperate woman standing on the corner, those battling poverty, the young child in need of love, they are not just a poster child for an organization but are individuals, with names, who bear the image of their Creator. And we need to learn their names, honor their Maker, and invest in knowing and serving them.
We need to invest our time and hearts, not just our money.
3. While Fighting Injustice, We Must Remain Humble
When we serve others, it is easy to become proud. Instead of humbly doing the work God gives us, we often step into the role of judge and assume a holier than thou attitude. But in the quest for justice, God reminds us through the words of Micah that we must remain humble.
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, ESV
I always thought it was odd that justice and humility were put together but then I saw how my own pride manifested itself when I was serving. Suddenly, I looked at others and wondered why they were not serving alongside me. I wondered what in their life made them too important to serve and patted myself on the back for being a real, devoted follower of Christ.
And while occasionally it is appropriate to gently encourage others to live out their faith through service, I found that more often than not, God had called them to serve differently than He had called me.
There are many ways to serve others, but God doesn’t call us all to serve in every way. He has placed certain causes on my heart and on yours. Each of us has particular injustices we are passionate about seeing corrected. That doesn’t mean one of us is right and the other is wrong, it just means that God has given us different gifting and is using us in different ways. Instead of becoming proud and assuming we are doing the most important work, we need to trust that God is placing different people in different areas to accomplish His plan.
4. Remember that World is Very Broken, But God is Still in Control
When we are confronting injustices, it is easy to become overwhelmed with the brokenness of the world. The Fall has touched every area of the world but when we confront injustice, we face head on the places most battered by evil. Confronting evil can cause us to lose heart and blind us to the common grace of God.
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. – John 16:33, ESV
Jesus knew that this world overflows with tribulations. He also knew that is would be easy for us to lose heart. He reminds us He has overcome the world and no matter how dim things seem, we need to rely on the Light of the World to persevere.
5. We Must Trust God to Bring the Results
One of the tendencies we have joining God in His work is to forget that the work is His, not ours. We feel as if we should never rest because there is always more to be done. When we adopt this view, every victory feeds our pride and each defeat leaves us disheartened. While we labor, we need to keep in the forefront of our mind that truth that God is always the one who finishes the work He begins.
I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. – Philippians 1:6, ESV
We will labor until Christ returns but when He does, we will see the completion of what we have labored for. But in the meantime, with every victory and setback, we need to rest in God’s sovereignty. Instead of resigning ourselves to dismay in our feeble efforts, must trust that the God who multiplied the fishes and loaves can also multiply the work of our hards.
We must live faithful to the tasks God has given us while also resting in the knowledge that God is the one who brings our work to fruition. The redemption of the world will not come through our works, but through the Lamb of God, slain for us.The redemption of the world will not come through our works, but through the Lamb of God, slain for us. Click To Tweet
Let us work hard to complete the tasks God has given us, because fighting against injustice and for the oppressed is the work He has given us, but let us never lose heart by trusting in our own efforts.