“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has” (Margaret Mead)
Jesus proclaimed, “The time has come…The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15). The Greek word translated “good news” is the source of our English word “evangelism.” Thus, true evangelism is announcing that in Jesus and through Jesus, God’s kingdom breaks into our reality.
What does the kingdom of God look like?
Jesus described it thusly, “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” (Luke 4:18-19, quoting the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 61). In God’s kingdom there will be no poverty, no crime, no imprisonment, no sickness, no oppression, and no injustice.
As a follower of Jesus, wherever I work or live or go to school or go to church or exercise or eat or vacation or anything else, I take Jesus with me which means God’s kingdom is near. When I fight against poverty, stand against crime, minister to prisoners, heal and comfort the sick, speak up for those who are oppressed, and speak out against injustice, I am bringing God’s kingdom into the here and now. I am, as Margaret Mead said, “changing the world.”
Evangelism is not just getting people to say a memorized prayer (as important as that is). Evangelism is proclaiming through words and actions that God’s kingdom is near. “Repent and believe the good news.”
How do I embrace social justice? How do I expand my definition of evangelism? How do I change the world?
- Pray. Pray for God to change your heart and to open your eyes to the needs around you.
- Read. Read your Bible. Read the newspaper. Educate yourself to all the needs around the world, and around your community.
- Listen & Watch. This is part of educating yourself. Listen to all sides of the political debate. Watch all forms of news media. Don’t close your mind to people who have differing viewpoints.
- Passion. As you pray and read and educate yourself, God will reveal a passion to you that addresses a social issue. Pay attention to that passion.
- Volunteer. Volunteer at your church, but also pick out another avenue of service that addresses your passion. It could be a local mission, or a hospital, or water project, or a food pantry, or an issue in politics, or cleaning up the local streams and rivers.
- Share. Talk to others about your passion and where you see God working. You will be surprised how many people are waiting on someone like you to show them the way forward.
What are some things you have done to embrace social issues?
I don’t disagree with your points, or your sentiments in this post. I have a difficult time “embracing” to terminology you employee when you call it “Social Justice.” Historically — and in the current climate especially — “Social Justice” is directly related to the relationship between Marxist political ideology and Liberation Theology among the more “Liberal” groups in Christendom. “Social Justice” is about what society should do, what Government should do, about what “the Rich,” “the Haves” should be compelled to do BY those “in charge,” FOR those they deem “the poor,” “the Have-nots,” “the proletariat.” In this view of “Social Justice,” at least from the “Christian” perspective, Salvation is collective and socio-political, rather than personal and spiritual. This is most certainly the view of President Obama and his [former] Pastor, Jeremiah Wright — but it is not a Biblical view.
Of course, I know that this is not the view you hold. A Biblical view of Justice is, I think, reflected in the Micah Mandate: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8). Justice should be equal before the law, care for the poor, needy and spiritually wanting should be personal, and we should be dependent on the power of God in our ministry to these needs — not laying it off to government to do.
What you describe above from the Scriptures is not “Social Justice,” but Biblical Justice. It is a citizen of the Kingdom living out Kingdom Principles in foreign territory. Governments cannot compel this, nor can they duplicate it. What you describe is what advocates of “Social Justice” in reality hate. What you outline demands ministry from the heart, and brings changes in lives from the inside-out. THEN society REALLY changes. What “Social Justice” seeks to do is merely change, or overthrow, old institutions, while leaving the poor and needy people in their spiritual and internal poverty still. There couldn’t be more of a difference.
Kevin, the Kingdom you represent should never settle for mere “Social Justice.” It is a cheap and external attempt to duplicate what ONLY God can Create! And the blessing is that He chooses to use US personally, those who know Him in the Person of Christ, to be Ambassadors for that Kingdom — not the royalty, or institutions, or governments, or Armies, or the organizations of this world! Blessings!
J. Dale Weaver, M. Div.