Living Social Justice

A blog about responding to poverty and injustice, everyday and in all sorts of ways

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Video: What is biblical justice?

In under four minutes, Ken Wytsma, Founder of The Justice Conference, gives us his description of biblical justice. Four minutes? That’s about the same time it takes most of us to make a cup of tea.

Going a bit deeper…

In the Bible, God is called ‘a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows’ (Psalm 68:4-5) – always seeking to protect and provide for those who are vulnerable to exploitation.

He shows himself as a God who cares for the vulnerable and marginalised people in the world, and he frequently calls his people to be his agents in this care. ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: Administer justice, show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the immigrant or the poor.’ (Zechariah 7:10- 11)

These are just two of over 2000 verses in the Bible which refer to issues of poverty and injustice!

The Bible may be full of references to justice but the idea of biblical justice is one that has been greatly misunderstood and debated over the centuries. The number of varying opinions out there can overwhelm us to the point where we stop grappling with what our understanding of it is.

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone! A good place to begin is by reading what a few respected biblical commentators have to say about the topic.

Timothy Keller gives a great summary of his understanding of biblical justice here, in a short excerpt taken from his book, Generous Justice. A book we can highly recommend! For a list of some our other recommended reads, click here.

So what about biblical justice are you grappling with?

Why Should We Give?

As we kick off  Warm Up Winter 2013, we take a look at the reasons why we should give to people in need. Common Good volunteer Roger Wood shares some thoughts on the biblical mandate behind caring for the poor.

Photo Credit: Architect-Licious via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Architect-Licious via Compfight cc

As I walked from Rondebosch station I was rejoicing and thanking God for the opportunity to work as a volunteer with Common Good. After 15 months of being unemployed, I felt comforted by the fact that God loved me and had a purpose for me in His mission. My joy quickly turned to irritation as I entered the subway under Campground Road. “Why had someone dumped that pile of rubbish at the far end of the subway?” I thought. But as I approached it I realized that these boxes and rags balanced on empty plastic crates was a bed for three people who were still sound asleep, tightly wrapped in these tatty blankets against the cold. It was the homely touch of the worn out dirty shoes neatly paired together by their bed that really touched me. Even in these conditions there was still a sense of pride and dignity.

As I stood, shocked by the fact that even here in Rondebosch, the poor struggle to live from day to day, it was as if the Lord was saying “Yes, I love you, but remember I died for the whole world. I’ve blessed you with a nice home, good food, a loving wife and so much more. But I still love these who have so little. You need to love them too.”

“But Lord,” I said, as I continued on my journey,“You said the poor will always be with us.”
“Yes, but is that a fact? Or is that a challenge?” He seemed to reply.

My mind raced to think of the many others in our city who do not enjoy all the blessings which I have. What is life like for the thousands who live in rusty corrugated shacks on the fringes of our affluent communities? How do they cope when winter comes, when the ground around their shack is sodden with pools of water and the bedding damp from the holes in the rusted roof?

So what does the Bible have to say about the poor?

In actual fact it says a lot. There are over 2000 verses which refer to the poor and needy directing God’s people to care for them. The Old Testament sets down a model for the Nation of Israel to care for the poor. For example: Deut. 15: 11 instructs that we are to share freely with the poor.

The early church even went to the extreme of selling their possessions and sharing with those in need. Acts 2: 45

And where does Warm Up Winter fit?

WUW gives us an opportunity to show the love of Jesus to those in need. Having said that, if we are just giving out of guilt or out of our surplus then that is not an expression of His love. 1 Cor. 13: 3 states “If I give everything I have to the poor and even sacrifice my body, I could boast about it, but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” We need to think critically about what we are giving, why we are giving and is this the only time we need to give?

We are blessed to be a blessing to others.

This is the first post in our Warm Up Winter blog series. For more information on Warm Up Winter go to the Common Good website

Earning the Right to be Heard

Is the Gospel better received when we’ve first earned the right to share it? Watch this video from Think International on how social justice and evangelism go hand-in-hand, then let us know your thoughts!

In our May newsletter we look at the Mission of God and what our roles are as followers of Christ. If you haven’t read it yet, you can access it here.

Pray as We Respond to God’s Mission

This month’s newsletter looks at how we reconcile evangelism and social justice. Join us as we pray for greater wisdom and guidance as we respond to God’s mission of redeeming and restoring people spiritually and physically. By Lindsay Sherring

Photo Credit: Raymond Larose via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Raymond Larose via Compfight cc

Did you know that you are part of God’s big mission?  Yes, you!  It may be difficult to comprehend that God in His infinite wisdom has picked you to carry out His mission to the world, but He has.  You might be asking, “What exactly does that mean?”  God’s mission is so multi-faceted, but at the core He calls us to share His incredible goodness to those around us.  This not only includes sharing His word through evangelism, but also meeting people’s economic and social needs through service.  The two go hand-in-hand!

As Christ-followers, God has given us great motivation to carry out His mission – He gave His only son so that our sins could be forgiven and we could be reconciled with Him forever. It is out of this place of gratefulness that we should carry out His mission.  How exciting it is to be part of His work!

This month, please pray:

  • That you have a deeper revelation of God’s goodness and love

It can be easy to slip into carrying out God’s mission out of a place of obligation or guilt, but that’s not what God wants from us.  Our motivation should come from our realisation of God’s goodness and from an understanding of the weight of what He’s done for us. Pray that your actions come out of a place of revelation and understanding, not of guilt.

  • That you show God’s goodness to everyone

When God asks us to show His goodness to people, He doesn’t mean only the vulnerable.  We are to proclaim His goodness to anyone and everyone that comes across our path.  As you go through this month, pray that your eyes would be opened to the needs of those around you in the many situations that you encounter.

  • That the church as a whole would understand God’s heart

It can be easy to forget that the church doesn’t have a mission, the mission has a church.  Ultimately, the body of Christ is to carry out God’s heart, not any specific agenda.  His desire is that we incorporate evangelism and social justice as we carry out His mission.  Pray that the hearts of individuals and leaders would be tuned to God’s heart and His mission for their lives.

  • That we participate in God’s mission

Reading about God’s mission and doing something about it are two different things. If we become a people who are all talk and no action, our message of Christ’s love loses all credibility. Pray that you feel convicted to courageously carry out the mission of God.  Ask God what this looks like in your own life and then seek to live accordingly.

That Was Different

Would you cycle around the peninsula in a dinosaur costume? Sounds a bit crazy but that’s exactly what Dino-boy is doing to raise money for TWD. He’s doing something different to make a difference – and you could too! Visit http://www.thatwasdifferent.net for more info 🙂

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