Social Justice and the Church…

social justice pic

Yesterday, Maddie let me actually leave the nursery in time to the service. For which I was very thankful, not because I don’t like being in the nursery (I do like it), but because of the message.

The post title, unless you are under major pain killers or decongestants, is a big clue…Pastor talked about social justice.

I initially cringed, probably even outwardly. Why? Because it’s one of those terms whose definition has been twisted beyond recognition, primarily by politicians, and from their, certain other groups. It’s a phrase I avoid, and in some cases, detest, because of the twisted meaning.

But Pastor salvaged that with Scripture after Scripture that pointed to the mission of the Church in social justice. No, not the politico’s version of social justice, but real social justice. Here are a few examples of the many given (mine are from ESV, some do the passages more justice):

Micah 6:8
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

James 1:27
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Dt 10: 17-18
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.

Hebrews 13:3
Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.

God’s heart is for the fatherless, the widows, the poor, the homeless, those in prison, the alien far from home. We are instructed to do justice and to care for them. In the parable of the sheep and goats, we are divided into those that did and those that didn’t–with both sides not realizing what they had done. That is, those who did do justice did so so automatically, as a part of who they were, that it was second nature.

The difference between this and the politicized social justice is really in who is doing it: as Christ followers, we are encouraged and instructed to be the ones offering the care. The ‘other’ social justice makes demands the the government should do it. The problem with that, of course, is that it effectively removed the human element. Us, as individuals and as a Church, have the opportunity to make a connection with those we help, and in that connection, we can offer love, caring, concern, warmth, and ultimately, the gospel.

But it’s a personal responsibility, not the government’s. If we wish to take the cause of social justice seriously, we must do it.

Yesterday, Maddie let me actually leave the nursery in time to the service. For which I was very thankful, not because I don’t like being in the nursery (I do like it), but because of the message. The post title, unless you are under major pain killers or decongestants, is a big clue…Pastor talked about social justice.…


  1. Ok, so i ABSOLUTELY agree with you as to the church being the one that should be doing this- the question is- what happens when the church DOESN'T. Or more realistically, when they do, but it isn't enough? Honestly, while i love your vision, i see it as a pipe dream, an impossibility.

    1. Why a pipe dream? If the Church changes priorities (and has drastically in the past, sometimes even for good), it could happen. There have been plenty of times and places when the Church was the sole provider of social services, so it's not unheard of…

      The problems with government being the provider are that it creates bureaucracy, is impersonal, takes away from the work of the Church, and often, rather than helping the person, creates a dependency, and then a lifestyle. I have clients that deal with the poor, the needy, and it's amazing the difference between the two types of people they help: ones who are grateful for the help, who are trying to improve themselves, and who work diligently, and are pleasant people…and those who are still in the entitlement mode, who talk about "getting" rather than "doing", who are negative, demanding, and anything but diligent in what they do with this client.

      1. I might add that while the individual church may of necessity work on a slightly smaller scale, the church as a whole is capable of doing a great deal. Our church is very active with the poor in our area and we network and coordinate larger efforts w/churches in surrounding communities. (I love my church, I love my Pastor, and yes I am 100% biased ;p)

        I'm not a fan of the govt. 'helping'. I've seen first-hand what that help looks like – teenagers still living at home issued foodstamps for NO apparent reason, which they promptly sell to get the money, for instance. I'm in complete agreement w/Scott – gov lacks good JUDGEMENT, and rather than treating the sickness continually treat the symptom. And more often than not, the sickness spreads.

  2. Scott, this is right on. The problem is that words have meaning in their societal context. Who would argue that Christians are supposed to change their world, particularly by helping the "least of these." However, when we speak in terms that Marxists have coopted in the last 100 years (yes, since the early 1900s in America – even longer), we end up with the Margaret Sangers and Charles Darwins of the world defining what it is to "help" society out. In their case, selective abortion was a method of birth control used to weed out the weak and infirm. This, to them, was "social justice," and much of the supposed church bought off on it. To this day, churches that preach social justice will support abortion in the name of that cause. They will also support the injustice of releasing from prison some of the worst of criminals – somehow because their crimes were society's fault. That is how they read "set the prisoner free." It is all upside-down. Only when we continue to link "holiness" to the ideas of justice, mercy and charity do we get God's ends. When we add government into the mix, as we have seen, holiness goes out the door, along with common sense and our tax dollars.

  3. Scott–I thought it was a great article so much so that I shared it on my page when you first wrote it…Unfortunately the Church has abdicated its role in so many ways that this is where we have ended up…how sad..

    I couldn't agree more with what Chris said. Holiness, not man made, artificial motives is the key..when we seek Christ and His will then our path as a church can not fail.