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Social Justice Is Not a Liberal Agenda

May 12, 2017

 

 

A woman who had been bleeding for 12 years came up behind Jesus and touched his clothes in hope of a cure. Jesus turned to her and said: “Fear not. Because of your faith, you are now healed.”

 

Then spoke Pious Paul: “But teacher, is that wise? When you cure her, she learns dependency. Then the poor won’t take care of themselves, knowing that you’ll always bail them out! You must teach them personal responsibility!”

 

They were interrupted by 10 lepers who stood at a distance and shouted, “Jesus, have pity on us.”

 

“NO!” shouted Pious Paul. “Jesus! You don’t have time. We have a cocktail party fund-raiser in the temple. And don’t worry about them — they’ve already got health care access.”

 

Jesus turned to Pious Paul, puzzled.

 

Jesus turned to the 10 lepers. “Rise and go,” he told them. “Your faith has made you well.” Then he turned back to Pious Paul, saying, “Let me tell you the story of the good Samaritan.

 

“A man was attacked by robbers who stripped him of clothes, beat him and left him half dead. A minister passed down this same road, and when he saw the injured man, he crossed to the other side and hurried on. So, did a rich man who claimed to serve God. But then a despised Samaritan came by and took pity on the injured man. He bandaged his wounds and put the man on his own donkey and paid an innkeeper to nurse him to health. So, which of these three should we follow?”

 

“Those who had mercy on him,” Pious Paul said promptly.

 

Jesus nodded. “So go ——”

 

“I mean the first two,” Pious Paul interjected. “For the Samaritan’s work is unsustainable and sends the wrong message. It teaches travelers to take dangerous roads, knowing that others will rescue them from self-destructive behaviors. This Samaritan also seems to think it right to redistribute money from those who are successful and give it to losers. That’s socialism!“

 

An excerpt from a blog by Nicholas Kristof

 

Many Christians are wary of participating in social justice because of a deep-rooted fear of being labeled “liberal,” “progressive,” or “secular.” They don’t want to be associated with “secular” movements, and are uncomfortable delving into issues that go beyond their cultural comfort zones.

 

But the Bible tells us that Jesus cared deeply about the social causes around him.

  • Jesus said, “Samaritan lives matter.”

  • Jesus said, “Children’s lives matter.”

  • Jesus said, “Gentile lives matter.”

  • Jesus said, “Jewish lives matter.”

  • Jesus said, “Women’s lives matter.”

  • Jesus said, “Lepers’ lives matter.”

Even though Jesus loves everyone, even to the point of dying for their sins, he went out of his way to intentionally help specific groups of people — the alienated, mistreated, and those facing injustice.

 

So, participating in a movement seeking justice, positive reform, and empowerment is one of the most Christ-like things we can do.

 

We must recognize that our society is filled with numerous groups facing oppression, and we must act. We must be willing to admit to and address the realities within our society that create such problems, and avoid the spiritual laziness that tempts us to rely on generic excuses and solutions.

 

Christians do a disservice to the gospel message by removing the cultural context from Jesus’s ministry and watering down his message to one of religious platitudes.

 

Throughout the New Testament Jesus was more complex than we give him credit for.

 

He intentionally, purposefully, and passionately addressed very specific causes. He radically addressed the diverse and complicated conflicts of the time and shattered the status quo. Jesus wasn’t just preaching a universal salvation message for the world, but he was also addressing specific political, social, and racial issues. He was helping those who were being abused, violated, and oppressed.

 

Involving ourselves with these issues — serving those who need justice — is an example of following Jesus that Christ followers should want to do, because throughout the world there are millions of people who are suffering. But many Christians remain simply apathetic, ignorant, or refuse to admit any problems exist.They’re uncomfortable facing the complex and controversial issues surrounding race, ethnicity, history, and culture.

 

They see verses such as Galatians 3:28 that states, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (NIV) to mean that nothing else matters beyond our faith in Christ.

 

Ironically, verses like this show that these things — race, ethnicity, culture — DO matter to God, because God is recognizing the very public fact that there are various laws, expectations, practices, and opinions regarding each distinction mentioned.

 

The writer is validating all the cultural issues associated with Jews, Gentiles, slaves, the free, men, and women rather than disregarding them. He’s stating that Jesus is relevant to these differences, and is working throughout their lives by understanding and recognizing the unique pros and cons they’re dealing with — the privileges, disadvantages, stereotypes, assumptions, treatment, rights, social value, and expectations they face.

 

Participating in social justice is a Christian tradition inspired by Jesus, not liberal causes.

 

 

Participating in social justice is a Christian tradition inspired by Jesus, not liberal causes, populist agendas, media platforms, lawmakers, or mainstream fads. It’s a deeply spiritual practice. Instead of being motivated by political affiliations, financial gain, power, pride, control, or our own secular motivations, we should be active participants for the sake of following Jesus — to glorifying God by through acts of justice, empowerment, and love.

 

Because everyone is created in the image of God and loved by God, we are responsible for identifying with the victimized — not rejecting their existence.

 

That’s why the New Testament goes into great depth detailing the newfound worth given to the Gentiles, slaves, and women. These counter-cultural instructions to believers were radically progressive, to the point where the gospel writers had to put them in writing to make sure they were implemented within the newly formed church. How did we become so conservative?

 

While God does love everyone and all believers are united in Christ, this doesn’t negate the fact that we have a unique cultural identity and upbringing and are called to recognize the marginalized, help the oppressed, and avoid rejecting their significance by denying their identity or ignoring their plight.

 

By acknowledging and actively participating in addressing racism, immigration, gender equality, and a litany of other issues, you are following in the steps of Jesus.

 

It’s not a matter of pitting social causes against the gospel message of Christ; it’s a matter of realizing that these causes ARE an important part of that gospel message.

 

 

 

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