“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” Romans 10:14 (ESV)
Social Justice is a topic that is currently in vogue, and in some ways it should be. Injustice seems to have control of most of the world. We cry out for justice, often wondering if God cares about the way some people are treated.
We want justice for the oppressed, and judgment upon all evil-doers—an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” Matthew 5:38 (ESV). All the while we turn a blind eye (pun fully intended!) to our own sin.
That is not to say, of course, that we shouldn’t be concerned about social justice. But our number one priority should be individual salvation and sanctification. Angry words and political actions are not verboten, but the world will only see significant change through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You can take a pig from its pen, bathe it and dress it up, but as soon as it can it will be back in the wallow.
It is so much easier to throw our hats into the ring with the secular activists for this-or-that cause. And while such methods provide at least temporary change for the oppressed, they fail to address the most important of all causes: salvation through the Gospel of Jesus. All too often we seek to assuage our consciences of the guilt of not addressing these societal inequities, with a little cash here and some volunteering there, without addressing the deeper need.
Perhaps we assume that meeting physical or fiscal needs makes it that much more likely that individuals receiving aid will find their true freedom, their true rescue, in Christ Jesus. But “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” Romans 10:14 (ESV). While it is true that meeting physical needs can open doors to the Gospel, this is not an assumption that the Gospel affords us the luxury of making.
We are called to make a positive impact on our world, but social justice, while decidedly important, pales in the light of the good news of Jesus. Perhaps we are uncomfortable sharing the Gospel; comfort was never promised to us. Maybe we don’t know the Gospel as well as we should; there is no legitimate excuse for any believer to be unfamiliar with the reason for their faith. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (ESV).
It’s so much easier to carry a sign, raise a few bucks, scoop food at a soup kitchen, than it is to share our faith. Why is that? Could it be that our faith is not as deeply rooted as we would like to believe? Do we have more faith in social movements than we have in Jesus? Poet C.T. Studd said, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”
In a world that has virtually limitless opportunities to promote social justice, perhaps we need to dig a little deeper. Yes, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, seek to hold authorities to the higher standard that their office demands. But don’t stop there. The greatest need, one that exists in every single person, is salvation through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus. There is no greater need on the planet.
As always, these are the musings of a mindful disciple. Blessings on your week!
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