What do you think social justice is? What does the Bible have to say about social justice?
Every time we open up our social media, walk across a college campus or turn on the television, we’re confronted with issues that have the words “social justice” attached to them. If you were to ask the people around you, “What is the greatest social justice issue right now?”, you would likely get different answers from each person.
Poverty. Racism. Crime. Crisis pregnancy. Police brutality. Sex trafficking. Homelessness. LGBTQ rights. Education. Inequality.
To make things even more confusing, you would struggle to find a consensus on WHAT aspects of these issues are the real problem and HOW we should address each of these problems.
To confuse us even more, people often commandeer Jesus to become a part of their cause. Jesus is used like a store mannequin that can be dressed up in whatever way serves us best. Political parties and social movements parade Jesus around like their personal superhero who champions their agenda. This often leaves us confused about what God really wants for the world we live in.
With all of this white noise, how are we supposed to know what true justice is? To answer this, we must appeal to something that doesn’t change with trends or current popular ideas. For truth to be permanent, we need something eternal to root it in: God and his Word.
So, what is biblical social justice?
These passages show us God’s commitment to justice. We see God’s heart for justice most clearly in Jesus. Jesus himself was the manifestation of Biblical social justice. He did not succumb to favoritism, greed, or love of power. He treated all those around him with fairness, was sacrificially generous, and moved toward people who were socially marginalized. He upheld both perfect justice and extreme mercy through his death on the cross, taking the punishment for sin while sparing guilty people from their own demise. On the cross, justice and mercy met.
True social justice flows from the heart of God. When we show compassion and mercy to the poor, we show the world that God cares. This also means that when we are indifferent to the needs of the poor, we communicate to the world that God is indifferent. Biblical social justice, therefore, concerns itself with God’s love for people - both physically and spiritually, in word and deed, from our souls to our skin. We must define justice according to God's truth revealed in scripture. Our ideas of justice must adjust to God, not the other way around. While there are many reasons to be skeptical of the misuse or overuse of the term “social justice”, we cannot escape this truth: God cares for the poor and vulnerable and we must too.
Q: How is God's heart for justice displayed on the cross? Why is it important that we consider the cross when discussing social justice?
Q: When have you been indifferent to the needs of the poor or marginalized? What makes you uncomfortable about their needs?
Q: What area of injustice do you see in the world that you feel especially passionate about? Why do you care about this issue so much?
Take a moment and praise God for his commitment to justice. Confess to God what makes you uncomfortable about helping people who are poor or marginalized. Pray for the needs of the cause you feel passionate about.