Becoming a Just Church
Understand and engage the church's call to pursue justice.
Also of Interest
That's a helpful distinction. A lot of people hear the term social justice …
And we sort of cringe, right? As Christians it puts us in a difficult position. Of course we don't want widows thrown off their land, that's not right. We certainly don't want children sold for sex. But we're at a loss to explain why it is that the church should be involved.
So why hasn't the church been following that call to justice?
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 ourselves from the 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.
So what are the first steps a church could take to pull itself out of that spiral and begin pursuing that call to justice?
There are two simple things. One, go back in the Scriptures and look really carefully. This is why Gary [Haugen, president of IJM] put out The Good News About Injustice; the first half of that book is really just a simple yet profound treatment of all the justice material in the Scriptures. It's so transformational when people see that.
Two, we have to be willing to take a good look at what the world is actually like. A few years ago World Bank put out this shocking statistic: 4.5 billion people in our world live outside of the reach of the rule of law. This means that for more than half of the world's population, their basic issue is that they are not safe. They can fall victim to anyone around them who is more powerful. The issue of violence among the world's poor is something that we just have to be willing to see. That includes all the issues that IJM deals with: sex trafficking, modern slavery, police abuse of power, unprosecuted sexual abuse of children.
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