Social justice is a must for every member of the kingdom of God.
Social justice is a biblical issue – always has been.
Social justice was first violated in the story of Adam and Eve – immediately following the creation of the first heaven and earth; when Satan introduced temptation and sin into the human experience. It will not be eradicated or “fixed’ until we have sin and Satan eradicated and the establishment of a new creation of heaven and earth; at the end of time (see Revelation 21-22).
In the meantime there will be personal wars, hatred, racism and cultural inequities. The bible addresses these issues repeatedly and throughout each of its covenant periods. Moses was the first to write on the matter. Jesus lived out the matter and the Christian church has struggled with the matter ever since, even though the Apostles and Fathers wrote copiously on how Kingdom values were to be lived out, by Christ followers, in broken society.
John Perkins, father of the “Evangelical civil rights movement” has written this…
“One of the greatest tragedies of the civil rights movement is that evangelicals surrendered their leadership in the movement by default to those with either a bankrupt theology or no theology at all, simply because the vast majority of Bible–believing Christians ignored a great and crucial opportunity in history for genuine ethical action.
The evangelical church – whose basic theology is the same as mine – had not gone on to preach the whole gospel… so I decided to act…I knew that the bible commands us to seek justice… but there were, and always will be, human emotions. Such as sadness at seeing those that I knew as brothers in Christ insist on a Sunday religion that didn’t sharpen their sense of justice during those years of turmoil (1965-67). It wasn’t a question of what “team” to join. In terms of social justice, evangelicals just didn’t have a team on the field”
Sadly, Reverend Perkins, who penned those words in 1976, is still right! It’s been 2000 years past the Great Redemptive Emancipation of humanity, by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and we’ve not succeeded in establishing a kingdom values system in society. Nor have we been able to agree on “The Law”, that is to set the foundation of what constitutes proper personal and social behavior. And we “evangelicals” remain impotent!
The biblical values system has been lost through the Hegelian synthesis of deterioration. Now, an angry and energetic, generation of young people has taken us to task by new forms of media, providing powerful and effective criticisms, pushbacks and recognition. Through a constant barrage of virulent arguments, and disruptive actions, they are slowly changing how we view American society. Their techniques are effectively chiseling away at yesterday’s values by way of the angry mallet of protest, agitation and force – tactics supercharged by the discontent of a hurt people. Their methods are frightening but their goal is simple; to reconstruct something more to their liking!
This new generation has a legitimate beef – we “elders”, of the previous Christian generation, did not complete the task of the gospel, as John Perkins* puts it, in that we did not extend our evangelical faith beyond a personal salvation. We left out the concomitant to our unique faith, the motto of which is “by grace we are saved through faith”. This gospel and its attendant salvation is completed when we do something with it that “redeems” or helps others less sufficient than ourselves. In fact, the Grace/gospel motto is buttressed by the necessity “doing something” in a subsequent verse (v10); we are told that in Christ, we are “created for good works, which God prepared beforehand”.
James addresses this issue bluntly in his “book”, telling all believers to ‘quit whining about trouble and get with helping others who have it worse’ – at least that’s a quick summary of the first two chapters. Jesus spoke so eloquently about this necessity when He announced his redemptive mission, while speaking at a synagogue in Nazareth – His home town.
Therefore, I say, confidently, that the concomitant of ‘grace through faith’ is the works of proving ones faith by our acts of sympathetic service to those who are needy, disenfranchised, oppressed and otherwise left out of a chance to seek and experience of the “abundant Life” Christ has offered All who come to Him. (see His comments/the verses below).
So, today we ae confronted with a mass of people who want real change and are willing to fight for it. They call is social justice, but it’s really social anarchy, wrapped in the sympathetic phrase; “social justice”. It’s actually very easy to understand, this new generation of criticizers want a more immediate fix to the problems of inequity they see in society or have personally experienced. I think the “protestors” today, whether legitimate or paid anarchists show that the slow burn of waiting for political or even Christian solutions to injustice and oppression in the world, has failed. As of now, these “fixers” have taken matters into their own hands in order to hit the subject head on, causing social disruption that we’ve not experienced in America since the Vietnam protests. And at that, I think today’s version actually seems more virulent and dangerous than the strain of protests we saw in the 60’s.
So what shall we do?
I am an advocate for less talk and more action (as Toby Keith would say) but I am looking for biblical action, not more riots, lootings, shootings, statue destruction or paid reparations; (Psalms 69:3-4).
So what does biblical action look like? Well, check out my notes below and see if you can’t see just exactly what you must do and how to do it.
Bible passages on social justice
“Social justice is the sweet aroma of the Kingdom of God; the codified virtue of the Almighty animating the acts of men who seek community with God and one another. Injustice is the absence of Kingdom law that stems from the wanton disregard of Divine Authority and its subsequent disregard of others. Its malignant aroma is the putrid smell of societal death, the sour atmosphere of Satan’s domain”. 2 Corinthians 2:14; 4:4
To institute successful social justice – its values, virtues and living conditions (that affirm and protect the dignity of all humans), society must conform to the “laws” of the kingdom of God; where godly behavior rules. Jesus, God’s son, affirmed that, from the first days of His ministry. Here is a sample quote…
… Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17
Furthermore, Jesus established the antidote for injustice through His redemptive sacrifice and provided the enablement by His salvation. Note below…
- And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district. 15 And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all.
16 And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. 17 And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed,19 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:16-19
- From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”… Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.24 The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. 25 Large crowds followed Him… Matthew 4:17-24
- Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2 this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:1-3
Where social justice begins…
Justice, period, has finds its fount at the feet of God. Yes I can prove that.
First notice the words of Amos, who railed at the injustices embedded in Israeli society in the 700’s BC. But let justice roll down like waters And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream Amos 5;24.
In this passage he makes a very unique statement, likening justice and righteousness as rolling waters, an ever flowing stream. That seems so out of context in a passage on judgement. Or does it?
In the 5th chapter of his prophetic diatribe, Amos tells the Israelites that God is going to judge them for their sins and do so in such a climatic and overwhelming way, they the prophet likens the torrent of God’s wrath, to a flood of water that destroys a fortress . And why, because the people, God’s people, are so self-consumed; they are so busy seeking personal gain that they rip off the poor, economically, and deny them justice in a civil court.
God says, through Amos, that He intends to give the oppressed relief through the avenue of His impeccable righteousness, He will give them justice. Only it will be the opposite of the overwhelming destructive force of a torrential rain, it will instead be byway of a peaceful but abundant, gentle flow of water: reinvigorating and refreshing. God promises “water” that fixes – He will resolve injustice by redressing wrongs, renewing relationships and healing the afflicted.
And that reminds me of the other two great passages of flowing water, that emanate from the Throne of God. The first is in Ezekiel 47, the other in Revelation 22. Here are those passages…
- Ezekiel 47:1-12
Then he brought me back to the door of the house (God’s Temple); and behold, water was flowing from under the threshold of the house toward the east, for the house faced east. And the water was flowing down from under, from the right side of the house, from south of the altar. 2 He brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around [a]on the outside to the outer gate by way of the gate that faces east. And behold, water was trickling from the south side.
3 When the man went out toward the east with a line in his hand, he measured a thousand cubits, and he led me through the water, water reaching the ankles. 4 Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the knees. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the loins. 5 Again he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not ford, for the water had risen, enough water to swim in, a river that could not be forded. 6 He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he brought me back to the bank of the river. 7 Now when I had returned, behold, on the bank of the river there were very many trees on the one side and on the other. 8 Then he said to me, “These waters go out toward the eastern region and go down into the Arabah; then they go toward the sea, being made to flow into the sea, and the waters of the sea become fresh. 9 It will come about that every living creature which swarms in every place where the river goes, will live. And there will be very many fish, for these waters go there and the others become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. 10 And it will come about that fishermen will stand beside it; from Engedi to Eneglaim there will be a place for the spreading of nets. Their fish will be according to their kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea, very many. 11 But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. 12 By the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.”
- Revelation 22: 1-2
Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2 in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
According to the concord of these three passages the flowing water of justice, which emanates righteousness, is from God Himself. And that water brings life and healing.
Finally the prophet Isaiah puts the exclamation point on this ”proof”, that justice and righteousness originate with God, when he quotes “The Lord God”, in the 51st chapter of his prophetic masterpiece; verses 4-5…
4“Pay attention to Me, O My people, And give ear to Me, O My nation;
For a law will go forth from Me, And I will set My justice for a light of the peoples.
5 “My righteousness is near, My salvation has gone forth, And My arms will judge the peoples;
Therefore, because it is true, then any discussion of Social Justice needs to be defined by a kingdom minded, God enabled, effort to relieve oppression and bring life to an afflicted people. It must begin with God and incorporate the revelation of His holy law, as the basis for life in His kingdom.
Anything else is not enough. And it’s not enough because it is the creation and exercise of mankind, typically initiated by a hurt and critical person, inspired from negative circumstances that influence their thinking and its conclusions. This intellectual process of seeking to rectify social injustice, though stimulating by itself, lacks sufficient “Revelation” and Divine power to provide for heaven sent fairness, even on temporary terms. The thoughts of man are lower than the thoughts of God (Isaiah 55:8, 9) and insufficient, so far as they lack the “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2) and influence of the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 1:5). Without a “vision” ( i.e. Revelation –Hebrew, (Torah = God’s law) the people are unrestrained! (Proverbs 29:18).
Therefore man’s disruptively generated demands for justice will not span the test of time – they are temporal at best; myopic, self-interested and emotionally driven, instead of true, effective, hope-filled and eternal.
The truth is, that true social justice begins with God, continues with God and focuses its interest and forces on pleasing God. For He has already outlined how social justice rectifies injustice – it is a supernaturally empowered affect that shall flow over every soul He created – through the gospel inspired and Spirit enabled efforts of His people. To that point I now turn my attention.
But let justice roll down like waters And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream Amos 5;24
Continues with Part 2 – “What shall we do?”…