“When we pastors think about leading God’s justice in the church, our first inclination is to organize a ministry. It could be a soup kitchen or an outreach event to the poor "down in the city". Sometimes we will find ways to become active in policy making on the local or national governmental level. We are tempted to make justice into another program of the church.”
The reason for this? It’s because we are so entrenched in an individualistic gospel. When the good news is reduced to just me and my personal relationship with God, then any actions to right injustices are seen as add-ons to that which is truly important. “Sure,” the thinking goes, “we can help the poor, but only as long as we help them each know Jesus as their personal savior.” Social Justice is a second-tier thing, while personal conversion is that which is of top priority.
“Imagine what it would be like in our churches if there were no such division. If we were not invited to go forward as individuals to receive a packaged salvation from God that gets us out of hell, but instead came forward to become part of what God is doing in the world through Jesus Christ—the reconciliation of all men and women with Himself, each other and all of creation (2 Cor 5:19), which BTW inextricably must still include my own personal reconciliation/relationship with God.”
He concludes by saying,
“If we are to resist the urge to make justice into another church program, then we must overturn this split between the personal and the social. We must go from preaching ‘accept Christ as your personal savior’ to ‘you are invited to enter a relationship with God through Christ that changes everything’. We must go from being justified, to being justice-ified. Justice should no longer be something we do, but who we are.”
In the full text of his post, he discusses how rethinking atonement and justification by faith can cure this dis-integrated gospel understanding.
Check it out: Justice-ified by Faith: Preventing social justice from becoming just another program in the church.
technorati: emerging church; missional community; spiritual formation; social action