The word “social” comes from the Latin word socius, meaning “companion” or “ally.” The word “justice” comes from the Latin words iustitia and iustus, meaning “righteousness” and “equity.” Thus, “social justice” is seeing all people as your companion or ally and treating them in a right and equitable way. Basically, “social justice” is treating others the way you want to be treated (see Matthew 7:12). Inherent in this definition of social justice is not simply individuals treating others rightly, but societies and communities and governments treating others rightly. Therefore, fighting for social justice means speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves and standing up for the rights of people who have been mistreated and oppressed. Social justice is a call, not just too individual action, but communal action as well.
The mission of the church is incomplete without being actively involved in social justice. The reason this is true is because justice is grounded in the character of God. The psalmist wrote, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne” (Psalm 89:14); and Deuteronomy 32:4 reads, “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” It is for this reason that social justice has to be a part of evangelism. Evangelism, the good news that in and through Jesus, God’s kingdom breaks into our reality, necessitates the church’s involvement in speaking out against social sins and standing up for the disenfranchised.