Christians and Social Justice

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I’ll be the first to admit social justice is one of my weaknesses. I struggle to look beyond myself to those who are less fortunate. I tend to have the view, albeit false, of “I’m nobody, I can’t do anything so why try.” However, this does not give me an excuse to totally alienate myself from social justice issues altogether.

In his poignant book, Prodigal God, Tim Keller writes:

“Christianity is perhaps the most materialistic of the world’s faiths. Jesus’ miracles were not so much violations of the natural order, but a restoration of the natural order. God did not create a world with blindness, leprosy, hunger, and death in it. Jesus’ miracles were signs that someday all these corruptions of his creation would be abolished. Christians, therefore, can talk of saving the soul and of building social systems that deliver safe streets and warm homes in the same sentence. With integrity.”

Christians tend to focus on the soul or heart but forsake the material. However, this is far from scriptural. I would argue that this reason is rooted in selfishness and not in scripture. In fact, when we look at the life and death of Jesus, we see a vastly different picture. Keller goes on to write:

“Jesus hates suffering, injustice, evil and death so much, he came and experienced it to defeat it and, someday, to wipe the world clean of it. Knowing this, Christians cannot be passive about hunger, sickness, and injustice.”

Let me repeat that last line once more, “Christians cannot be passive about hunger, sickness and injustice.”

Did you catch that? Many Christians think social justice is optional and decide not to participate. However, those who want to act, think and perform like Jesus must care about those who are under duress. Why? Because Jesus gave his life for everyone.

The gospel is about saving lives, not just souls. Somewhere along the way, Christians have only worried about getting people “saved” (ie their souls) and then have simply gone about their merry way (checkmark!). This is why some people outside the church have a disdain for missionaries. Missions in the past has simply been concerned with getting the people saved and sometimes even striving to convert them to American Christianity, all the while not really caring about the state that they are in physically. Thankfully, I see this trend changing. Though I’m not a missionary, nor have I been overseas. I have talked with missionaries and heard stories of their efforts to give people greater resources physically such as food, water and education.

The gospel is about saving lives, not just souls. Therefore, Christians should care about the whole person, not just their souls.

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