WHY THE CHURCH IS LOST ON SOCIAL JUSTICE
REVIEW: Justice: Remember the word “justice” in Hebrew actually means judgement, or right/equal judgement based on a predetermined set of rules or guidelines. The Bible is very clear on justice. 1. We learn God’s commands and we obey them because He is the only source of true unbiased judgement. 2. Justice acts on behalf of the oppressed not against the oppressor 3. Justice looks like acting on behalf of the widow, the orphan, the poor, or the physical weak or sick. 4. Justice also includes being fair or making judgements equitably. Injustice: Injustice in Hebrew literally reads “no make/create judgement”. The Biblical concept of injustice really boils down to two simple things: 1. Rejecting God’s commands 2. Attempting to create proper judgement based on our own guidelines and rules instead of God’s.
Biblical Response to Injustice:
In the previous post we discussed how the Bible helps us understand the proper response to injustice when we encounter it. We must always seek YHVH's instruction and guidance when attempting to recognize and respond to injustice. 1. Do Not Join In 2. We act toward the oppressed instead of the oppressor
3. It is not our job to seek vengeance
In this blog post we will look at a practical example from a personal conversation I personally participated in. Using this example we will evaluate the positions being taken and if they fit the Biblical guidelines that have been explored so far in this series. Before we get rolling I want to offer a few strategies when listening to and watching some of these comments and actions. This is not an attack on specific people, but an exploration of what is being said or done, and how we discern what is happening and how we are supposed to respond Biblically. It is important
1. Hang up your emotions and take them off the table. That doesn’t mean not to show empathy, love, or concern but when you allow yourself to get angry, frustrated, or hurt by something you may see or hear then it automatically puts you at a disadvantage to interpret a situation Biblically. The Bible tells us that human anger does not lead to righteousness, our emotions more often lead us astray rather than to truth. Do not allow your emotions to be the reason why someone cannot receive Biblical truth from you or why you can't hear and respond Biblically to their observations or concerns.
2. Trust the Bible has your answer. The great thing that Christians have at our disposal for handling difficult societal and personal situations is the eternal truth of the Word of God. Use it, be confident in what it teaches us, and ask the Holy Spirit to teach and guide you as you pursue truth in the Word of God. YHVH promises He will reveal Himself to those who seek Him with all their heart, mind, and strength, so seek Him and you will always find Him to be faithful.
3. Your opinion doesn’t matter, neither does secular advice. This is an extension of the previous point, but offering opinions isn't going to get us anywhere. Truth is truth and it doesn’t depend on you or me or on the society in which we live. Truth is found in only one place, in the Scriptures and instructions given to us by a good and holy God who is eternal just and righteous, YHVH.
Example: "We're Tired of Forgiving"
The section of this discussion I am using is directly from a personal chat conversation I had with someone about race. I have attempted to highlight a segment that stands alone and requires no additional context to understand the point being made. We will explore the ideas being communicated then try and understand them through the lens of Scripture. Take time to read through the graphics below.
Some key points are being made here:
Current anger (referring to vandalism, violence, and arson) from victims of racial injustice is a result of being tired of forgiving.
Non-victims see the injustice and don't respond or blame the victim for the results.
"We" (victims) don't deserve unjust treatment.
People (white people) will wake to the truth that Jesus is black (reference to the tribe of Judah)
People will reject Jesus/Yeshua once they realize He is black, because they are racists.
Let's take a moment to break these comments down and test them Biblically.
1. Forgiveness: Forgiveness is not a choice for disciples of Yeshua and children of YHVH. We are not only called to forgive, we are called to forgive because we recognize that we have been forgiven of a great debt, therefore we cannot rightly withhold forgiveness from others no matter how angry we are.
Matthew 6:14-15 esv
"14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
Matthew 18:21-22 esv (read through v. 35)
"21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times."
Colossians 3:12-15 esv "12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful."
Psalm 103:10-14 esv "10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. 14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust" Forgiveness is not an option for followers of Yeshua, it is a requirement. We do not begrudgingly snarl the words "I forgive you" through gritted teeth and laser eyes like a child told to apologize by their parents. No, we learn to love those, even our enemies, as the Father loved us, His enemies, and forgive them because we love them enough to share the liberty of forgiveness with others. It doesn't matter what race, wealth, status, or authority you are, this is who true followers of the Messiah are supposed to be. If you call Yeshua your master, this applies to you.
2. Witnessing Injustice and Remaining Silent or Casting Blame
If you've made it this far in the series, you already know this is NOT okay. If we witness true injustice, no matter the source or the victim, we are required to work toward the benefit and aid of the victim. In addition, when true injustice is being witness, the disciple of Yeshua must not cast blame one the victim. We instead, must be discerning enough to recognize the victim and respond justly.
Jeremiah 22:3-5 esv "3 Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.4 For if you will indeed obey this word, then there shall enter the gates of this house kings who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their servants and their people.5 But if you will not obey these words, I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation."
Proverbs 31:8-9 esv
"Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. 9 Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy."
Isaiah 1:16-17 esv
"16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, 17 learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause."
Clearly the Word of God does not leave room for passive silence in the case of injustice. We are to speak and act with resolve and purpose. It is important to understand that we respond in this manner to what YHVH calls injustice, not what society calls injustice. Then and only then will our actions be in keeping with the heart of the Father. The challenge we face is when politics, social pressures, and even close relationships are on the line, it becomes increasingly more difficult to rightly distinguish between what God calls injustice and what we and others perceive to be injustice. It is His standard alone that we are to be governed by. Casting blame is just as unproductive as silence in many cases. Far too often within minutes we have national news stations, social media "experts", and armchair legislators quick to offer their critique or criticism of a particular situation. Unfortunately, those snap reactions often heavily influence culture's response and perception of certain situations. It clouds good judgement, draws primitive and weak lines that are fought to the death to protect, and ignores every instruction the Bible gives us in our response. Slow to speak, quick to listen, slow to anger, and quick to love. Casting blame automatically puts people in a position where they must defend their position. This only reinforces the "us and them" mentality that we rally the wagons around when it comes to social justice and racial injustice.
3. "We Don't Deserve This" I don't care who you are, we have all used this line and we have all felt justified in its delivery when we've used it. People generally don't say this unless they truly believe they are innocent. However, that belief doesn't always reflect truth. Simply believing you are a victim doesn't make you one. The unfortunate reality of lines like these is they generally precede a response the user believes to be a just reaction to the object of their abuse. The reality is, no one "deserves" to receive unjust treatment, and we as believers in YHVH are obliged to respond to the victim of injustice to remedy or care for the needs of those who are suffering. When we sit back and declare someone "deserves" something to happen to them, we are positioning ourselves in the seat of the Judge...a place we must not appoint ourselves to. Instead, we must submit ourselves wholly to the righteous Judge's guidelines, instructions, and rulings without bias or preference. Where injustice is done, we must respond as YHVH leads us in His Word. If the church learned this skill we would rarely draw our battle lines where they often fall. Yet far too often we argue based on the wrong standards (politics, denomination, and self-righteousness). When we see injustice we must show love, compassion, and gentleness to those who are suffering so they can see the Father and have hope.
Psalm 106:3 esv
"3 Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!"
James 2:1-4 esv
"My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?"
Micah 6:8 esv "8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"
James 3:17-18 esv "17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."
4 & 5. People Will Find Out Jesus is Black, and Hate Him Because of it.
Any argument built upon Yeshua's skin color is a radically lost and unstable argument built to do one thing and one thing only...Elevate skin over faith. Viewpoints like this whether elevating Jesus as white, brown, black,, yellow, or beyond are fruitless and divisive and do not support what the message of the Gospel truly is. Yeshua's message, and YHVH's gift of atonement and salvation have nothing to do with Yeshua's skin color, they have everything to do with His mercy. Yeshua's lineage is given in Scripture, but is it to support racial superiority? Of course not, it is to establish His place in fulfilling multiple prophecies regarding the Messiah, that it is. In every other way the apostles warn us against all other fruitless arguments over lineages. To devour this bait is to accept the ideology that one race must be more righteous and spiritually superior simply because of what lineage they are born from. It spits in the face of the Messiah's message that He gave His life for all nations, and it's fruit is destruction and division.
Titus 3:9 esv
"9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless."
2 Timothy 2:14-16, 23-26 esv "14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness... 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will."
1 Timothy 1:3-5 esv
"3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."
1 Corinthians 15:21-22 esv
"21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive."
We must not forget our testimony of faith in the Messiah and the truth of Scripture is on full display when we react, respond, or engage in actions of justice or towards those who are victims of injustice. It is in our sound study of God's Word and in sincere faith that we are compelled to respond with gentleness and love. We must be wise enough to know through our response people will see the Father and learn to trust Him as they witness His just character through our physical example. We are witnesses to His character to a world that is dark and hurting and as children of the light they will see our action and not only judge us, but they will judge the God of the Bible, YHVH, by our behavior.
Choose to be that city on a hill. Do not put your lamp under the basket of political allegiances, social norms, secular knowledge, and fleshly bias. Instead, seek the truth of the Father, prepare your heart by renewing your mind in the Word of God daily, so that you can discern and know the perfect and acceptable will of the Father of lights.
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