For those of us who followed the news in 2014 it was a depressing year. Images of violence, racism, government coups, injustice and world-wide evil have wracked our brains and broken our hearts. As we look at our lost nations, communities and target people groups we have to ask ourselves an important question. What is it really going to take to bring lasting transformation in our world?
The answer is incredibly simple. Jesus. All the social evils of our world are a direct result of sin. The remedy for sin is not social justice, it is Jesus.
So why then do we fight evil, poverty, hunger, human trafficking and sanitation with social justice? It’s because it’s easy to be a social justice activist. Tell your Facebook friends that you are building wells in Africa and they’ll praise you. Ask your school to join your campaign to end human trafficking and you’ll achieve rock star status. Our postmodern progressive global community will applaud you. But try telling them that you are training disciples and planting churches. They will…well, crucify you. It’s highly admirable to do good deeds. It’s highly unpopular to share the Gospel.
Here are three reasons why social justice will not change the world:
1. We have separated the secular and the sacred, which Jesus never meant to be separated. Jesus never separated the two in his ministry. It was the faith of the blind, sick and oppressed that brought about their healing. It was the faith of Jesus that administered the healing. There is no such thing as a solely “secular” or “spiritual” ministry, as Jesus showed us that he cares for the entire scope of a person’s being. Jesus didn’t do it just for the sake of meeting limitless humans needs but for the sake of God’s glory. God’s glory was the intent from the very beginning and His glory was always the end goal.
2. We have replaced the Gospel with social justice, when Jesus’ message was one of social judgment. Harsh words, I know but Jesus was even more direct. Jesus wasn’t ashamed to share the “Bad News” that we are sinful, hopeless and destined for eternal separation from God. He spoke often about repentance – which means to turn from your old way – and challenged us to give allegiance to Him as our spiritual King. Jesus also said that justice was God’s alone to decide and deal out. Acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly is simply our response to the “Good News” of his grace.
3. We have devoted ourselves to virtual justice, when Jesus’ modeled genuine relationships. We are a generation devoted to virtual justice. We rally around popular digital campaigns and give digital funds to digital pictures and digital projects. If we are to make a real difference than we must get off our computers and get involved in the lives of real people. In our globalized world there is no excuse for being disconnected or unable to get personally involved. For starters, we need to learn about where the needs are the greatest and make strategic efforts to help groups, peoples and places that have no help.
Jesus is the only answer for the injustices of this world. What does that look like in practice? It looks like you and me. Together in Christ we are the Church. As the Church that bears the image of Jesus, we can change our world.