I’m not sure what your first reaction is when you hear the word social justice? For a long time, I’ve felt overwhelmed. The scale of need, how to help & the pushback from people used to paralyse me. I’ve come to learn, that why we do justice is just as important (if not more) as how we do it.
Fear, religious duty, saviour complex or guilt to name a few, might kick you into action but they’re alarming motivations. Below are three biblical motivations for us to do justice:
1. We reflect the character of God:
2 Corinthians 5:20 talks about us as “Christ’s representatives” here on earth. We are ambassadors of a different kingdom! When we speak, act & live, we do it as representatives of the King of that Kingdom. Psalms 11:7, Isaiah 30:18, Psalm 146:7-9, 1 John 3:16-18 & many more all describe God as a God of Justice.
If we claim to reflect Gods character but ignore issues of injustice arounds us, we aren’t actually representing Jesus well. As we read scripture, the gospel should go deep into our hearts, transform us & then flow out into action that reflects a God of justice.
2. It’s a Biblical command to love our neighbours:
Jesus sums up the whole law in this sentence, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
We are commanded to love our neighbour. What does loving look like, you might ask? Well, Jesus is using the Greek word ‘agape’ in the above passage, a word that can be explained as a pure, wilful, sacrificial love that intentionally desires another’s highest good. Just for a moment imagine with me a city, nation & world where everyone desired the highest good of their neighbour? Sounds heavenly. May we learn to be motivated to do justice by this kind of love.
3. Seek the peace of the city:
Many Christians love to quote Jeremiah 29:19, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord…” but in context, that was written to Hebrew exiles in Babylon. A few verses before in the same chapter, God says, “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens…” and then he drops this master line, “also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city…because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
It’s no mistake that God has placed you in this city for a reason. You may feel like an exile but Gods encouragement to us is to get involved in your city, your complex or school board or caring for the elderly. Outworking Biblical justice doesn’t always have to be about traveling to far flung 3rd world nations but the call of God is to champion justice wherever you are.
So may you & I, like the poetic King David in Psalm 139 ask God to investigate our life & cross-examine us so that He can refine our motivations for doing justice into biblical ones.
By Brett & Claire Jones