The role of social justice in the church has been a hotly debated question, especially as of late in a heated political atmosphere. I firmly believe as members of the Kingdom of Christ, Christians should be in the business of ushering in justice to the world. It is ultimately what we hope and long for in the return of Christ–no more pain, suffering, or loss. We have a deep longing to see justice because that we have a deep longing to see Christ.
Ultimately, we must look to the person of Christ to see the role of social justice in the church. When Jesus began his ministry, He said ”
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Christ had a deep concern for people and their circumstance. We see this throughout his entire ministry. He healed the sick, feed the hungry, raised the dead, and so on. His very miracles demonstrates that He is concerned about the “least of these.”
I often hear that Jesus’ miracles validated His ministry. Ultimately they did affirm His deity, because no such acts could be done apart from God Himself. But just as much as they affirmed His deity, I believe it affirmed His love. People won’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care. Even for the Son of God that is true.
I think that our care for others validates our ministry now. The more concern we are about others, the more concerned we will be about justice, and the more we will long to see Christ return. Shane Claiborne wrote in the Irresistible Revolution:
“I started to see that the miracles were an expression not so much of Jesus; mighty power as of his love…Jesus raised his friend Lazarus from the dead, and a few years later, Lazarus died again. Jesus healed the sick, but they eventually caught some other disease. He fed thousands, and the next day, they were hungry again. But we remember his love…and the incredible thing about that love is that it now lives inside of us.”
The same love that raised the dead, healed the blind, fed the hungry is alive in us. How are we going to show that to the world?