God passionately loves “the least of these” and calls us, as fully devoted followers of Christ, to do the same. There are over 2000 references in Scripture where God calls his people to divide their bread with the hungry, cover the naked, preach good news to the poor, help the helpless, be a father to the fatherless, bring relief to widows, bring justice to the oppressed – to be people who “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.”
Ignoring Social Justice?
It is difficult to ignore these passages. But for several decades, the church has focused more on fulfilling the Great Commission (to make disciples) than on living out the Great Commandment (to love our neighbor). The rationale was that social justice issues would be solved through the aggregate conversion and discipleship of individuals: if enough people really started following Christ, social problems would remedy themselves. In his most recent book, “To Change the World,” sociologist James Hunter argues that this common evangelical strategy has not resulted in the kind of social change that the church hoped.
But in recent years, mission-minded believers have been trying to re-integrate social justice concerns into their walk with Christ, tangibly loving the oppressed and literally saving lives in Jesus’ name. By refusing to ignore God’s mandate to help the vulnerable, we are making social justice a benchmark for a richer and more full gospel.
Maybe you’re the next . . .
As you seek to live missionally, maybe you have a passion for relieving human suffering or for tangibly fighting human oppression. As a “sent one,” you may not be called to join staff with Cru, but you may be the next founder of a non-profit like Kiva, a socially conscious business like Tegu, or a social justice organization like International Justice Mission. By doing so, you will be reflecting the heart of God and demonstrating his gospel to “the least of these.”
Action point: As you think about this broken world, which of the world’s needs intersect with your passions, gifts, and talents? Brainstorm ideas (with a friend or mentor about how you can help meet that need, either around the corner or around the world).