Archives For social justice

I read this extremely helpful article from Scot McKnight posted at the Catalyst Blog.  He is the most popular Christian blogger on the planet and I am SO thankful for his voice.

I will just add a quick note beforehand – I know how the words “social justice” can really fire up Christians, so my only request is to read this with an open mind, no matter where you stand on those two words.  I really appreciated these words from Scot.

Check it:

Where Justice is Most Just

By Scot McKnight

Before I make my point, a sketch of our context. There have been three major shifts in the last fifty years for contemporary evangelical Christianity: worship shifted from hymns and choirs to worship bands, denominational affiliation continues to be less and less of a factor, and justice ministries have consumed more and more of the budget. Fifty years ago many, if not most, non-mainline American churches avoided social justice. In fact, a pervasive thought was that social justice meant social gospel, and social gospel meant liberalism, and that meant “Don’t even begin to think about it!” But that’s behind us now.

However we explain this shift in interest in social justice, it can be connected to both sides of the political spectrum, both to the moral majority movement and to strong voices like Jim Wallis. What is not in dispute is that young Christians believe social justice is inherent to the Christian task and to leadership.

I’d like to suggest that part of the rediscovery of justice in our churches finds profound biblical support, not the least of which is a string of passages in the Gospel of Luke. Without discussing each, I will mention them, and then I want to offer a strong warning. If you sit down with your Bible and read carefully through this set of passages you will be driven to the conclusion that justice was at the heart of Jesus’ mission. Read Luke 1:46-55, commonly called the Magnificat; then Luke 1:67-79, the Benedictus; then Luke 3:10-14, where John the Baptist explains what repentance looks like at the practical level. These three texts and persons had a profound influence on Jesus because they were God’s chosen instruments to prepare the way for Jesus. Each of them sees the day when God’s kingdom will break into history and one of the central themes will be justice – and that means economic transformation. Oppression will end for the poor.

Now to Jesus. Jesus’ first sermon in his hometown synagogue, in Nazareth, involved quoting lines from Isaiah 61 that define the ministry of Jesus as preaching the gospel to the poor (Luke 4:18-19). Then in the opening lines to Jesus’ most famous sermon, called the Sermon on the Plain/Mount, Jesus turns society inside out by setting out a vision of just relations (Luke 6:20-26). Finally, when John is in prison and wondering if he will ever be set loose, he sends messengers to Jesus to see if Jesus is after all who he (John) thinks he is. Jesus’ response appeals to passages in Isaiah 29, 35 and 61 and once again he sees his mission as reshaping society in just ways. Namely, the formerly excluded will now be at the table. Justice from Mary to Jesus and John: it’s all over the Gospels.

But a warning. I am 100% on board about social justice and I’m thrilled to see so many churches and especially young leaders take up the kingdom vision of Jesus. And I am thrilled so many leaders are leading the charge by directing focus on helping the poor and providing water and forming disciples as those who do justice.

But I see two problems, and I’m asking you to consider carefully and prayerfully these two problems. First, for too many, social justice means voting for the right party. The economy is part of social justice, and our national debt mortgages away the future of our children and grandchildren. Many want to fight it. And healthcare is a concern for many of us, and fighting for the rights of everyone to have adequate healthcare is a noble cause for followers of Jesus. And international poverty and slave trading and healthy water and food … all genuine Christian concerns directly connect-able to the kingdom vision of Jesus.

But I see an increasing number of followers of Jesus who think this means getting involved in the bureaucracy of governments and politics in order to bring about these noble goals. In fact, at times – and we will see this all over again by the end of the year when elections begin to heat up – one wonders if our hope, our eschatology, is an eschatology of politics. Is the way to change the world into a more just world through political platforms?

I ask you to consider this: How did Jesus change the world? Did he go to Jerusalem or Rome and protest? Did he advocate for a different king on the throne in Jerusalem or push for a new Caesar? I ask these questions because I know their answers are No.

Which leads me to my second problem, and it answers the first problem: the place for Christians to advocate for change is the local church.

Those six passages I mentioned above in the Gospel of Luke come to their fitting conclusion in Acts 2:42-47. In that small Jerusalem community justice was embodied and a new society was created. I want to suggest to you that this is our vision.

Let us work for justice, but let us embody that vision in our local church, let us do justice by taking care of the poor in our church and then the local justice spread that into our local community and world. Justice is most just when it is established by followers of Jesus in just communities of Jesus.

SCOT McKNIGHT is a professor at North Park University in Chicagoland. He’s also the most popular Christian blogger in the world. You can read more of his insights at JesusCreed.

To see the original post, click here.

Agree? What do you think about the two problems Scot proposes with social justice?

the-story

Here is the link for the Flower City Work Camp Video I created telling of our amazing week:

Here are some of facts / statistics from this years Flower City Work Camp:

– Over 65 churches from all different denominations

– Over 650 students from across Rochester city gave up their Spring Break to serve others

– 53 houses renovated, all of which hung a sign to say it was because of the love of Jesus

– 1,000 kids came to participate at the sidewalk clubs over the course of the week!

– Close to 200 kids made first time commitments to Christ!

– Calvary Assembly had 15 kids, over 15 adults, plus parents, from our church which was a HUGE first year response!

Another-job-done-by-fcwc

As I shared at church on Sunday morning, my personal favorite part was seeing the balance between serving others, while also learning and growing individually.  The FCWC experience is holistic: serving and discipleship.  Our night sessions and “cabin time talks” were some of the best I’ve had with the students here.

I also wrote more about FCWC in another post before the week if you would like to find out more.

anthony

Here is another great highlight video made by someone else:

Praise be to God for being active in our city!

Siggy’s Blogroll

October 19, 2009 — Leave a comment

blog

Jesus/Church Blogs

Brian McLaren: Liberal author, speaker, and activist for the Kingdom of God

Church Crunch: Technological/Web Thoughts for improving and advancing the mission of Jesus of Nazareth.

Church Matters: Helpful Biblical ideas for the local church.

Church Relevance: Free online resource created to help train ministries how to more effectively reach people.

Dan Kimball: California pastor and frequent blogger on the things of Jesus of Nazareth.

Donald Miller: Story teller. Progressive Christian thinker. Author of “Blue Like Jazz”.

LifeChurch.tv: Swerve’s purpose (LifeChurch.tv’s blog) is to share and learn from leaders who are passionate about reaching this world for Christ.

Matthew Paul Turner (Jesus Needs New PR): “The Christian Jon Stewart”, frequent blogger, author of “Churched: One Kid’s Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess”.

Michael Hyatt: CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, the largest Christian publishing company

Out of Ur: Top Christian blog for ministry leaders

Pete Wilson: Lead pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN.

Peter Rollins: Emerging teacher who just moved to NYC in late 2009. Author of “How (Not) to Speak of God”.

Ragamuffin Soul: Talented musician, teacher, and author, Carlos Whittaker. An authentic, real Christian.

Rainn Wilson’s Soul Pancake: Dwight from “The Office” has a team that seeks to “de-lamify” God and faith conversations

Relevant Magazine: Awesome magazine that “covers God, life, and progressive culture”. Great articles.

Rob Bell: Author and pastor. Writes great books and speaks even better sermons. Founder of Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, MI.

Rod White: Progressive Brethren In Christ pastor in downtown Philly at Circle of Hope.

Scot McKnight: Frequent blogger on progressive Christianity

Shane Hipps: Progressive author and Christian preacher of emerging culture and a “third way faith”.

Stuff Christians Like: Humorous blog making fun of the stuff that Christians like

Tony Jones: Liberal Christian thinker and frequent blogger at Beliefnet

Worship

All About Worship: Worship Music Highlights

David Crowder: Worship leader who makes some good Jesus music.

Worship Matters: Bob Kauflin’s Thoughts and Resources on Worship (author of a book by the same title)

Worship Together: Worship resources and reviews.

…For more worship links, go to this previous post of mine: Online Worship Resources.

Music (I like Indie stuff, just so you know…)

Brooklyn Vegan: NYC-based indie music focused on music news.

Paste Magazine: Leading source of independent music reviews

Pitchfork: The indie elitist site. 🙂

Stereogum: A music-oriented blog that focuses mainly on independent and alternative music MP3s, videos, news, reviews, etc.

Others: Gorilla vs. Bear, LargeheartedBoy, IndieMuse.

Marketing

Barna Research Group: Visionary research on the intersection of culture and faith.

Church Marketing Stinks: Reasons why church marketing is awful and helpful solutions to fix it.

Seth Godin: The most brilliant mind on marketing and business alive.  Well…possibly.

Missions/Social Justice Organizations

Hope International: Microfinancing for those in need.

International Justice Mission: Leading. Advancing. Overcoming. Bringing justice and awareness to humans in slavery.

World Vision: Huge Christian humanitarian charity organization.

Friends

A Family Without Borders: Friends from Minnesota who share their stories of adopting two children from Ethiopia.

Chris Flinchbaugh: Progressive writer, musician, and leader of my former house church.

Jen Siegrist: Friend from Lancaster who creates free music mixes that are always a good time.

Katie Klos: Infrequent blogger, but good friend from Geneva College and good writings on “Thoughts. Struggle. Faith.”

Rhys Searles: Friend from college who is a youth pastor in Nashville, TN.

Shawn Anthony: My former pastor, incredible writer/leader, frequent blogger on the Kingdom of God.

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*Note: Just because someone is listed on this blog roll does not mean I endorse everything they say.  I read a variety of readings from a variety of people on a variety of topics.  I also frequent a lot of other sites, but thought this could be helpful for people who were interested in some of my influences.

sexslavery

A few months back, I was the best man in my best friend’s wedding.  It was one of the best weekends of my life, to watch and experience true love between two of my greatest friends was an honor to be a part of.  Jessica looked beautiful and I could tell how excited Zac was for their future together.  The inspiration I receive from these two servants of Christ cannot be understated.

I write that in positive light, while there was a moment of darkness that caught my attention over the celebration weekend.  The day before the wedding, 4 of my best friends and I went to get our tuxes fitted in the morning before heading out to go play little bat.  Little Bat is a hilarious/fun game of essentially baseball in a tennis court with a tennis ball and a souvenir bat.  If you went to Geneva, you knew all about the Lil Bat buzz.  This is part of my legacy at Geneva College. Haha. But back to the story (If you have ever heard a Sigmon story, you know how easy it is for me to get off track).  So the tux guy is talking to us and drops a couple of f-bombs and we were a little taken back, but didn’t really think anything other than, “that was kind of unprofessional”.  Then one of my friends, who had just spilled his heart over lunch over deciding whether or not to join up with the National Guard after not feeling fulfilled in what he is currently doing, is overheard by the attendant at this tuxedo shop.  The attendant proceeds to tell us he just got out of the Army a year ago and how much (insert female private parts here) he got.  That’s all he could talk about, this coming from a man who is now married.  He talked about how overseas, not only does sex slavery occur often, it is actually encouraged by the governments.

Now this was not news to me, but this is how the tuxedo salesman was selling the army!!!  Not only did I feel a tear coming to my eyes, I was absolutely filled with rage.  I didn’t even know what to say or how to respond.  My poor friend is responding with awkward laughter, while I am telling another buddy that I’m going to box this guy in the face.  Luckily, we ended up just kind of mocking the guy to his face about what he had said and left it alone.  In hindsight I wish I would have approached him about it, but anything I would have said would have only been filled with curse words in anger.

Which brings me to my point.  I believe that the issue that my generation is going to work hard at trying to stop is sex trafficking.  Nearly every sane human being can see the wrong in this activity, that NO human should be forced into this.  I think that AIDS is the major issue of the generation before mine (and obviously still an issue to be working at), but that the major one for us will be this terrible crime against humanity.  It is one of the hardest things to tackle as it is so underground and secret, but so many groups and organizations are helping.  I know that for me, I cannot just keep going on my daily life, working for my own selfishness.  I will give to causes that will effectively stop this.  Anyone else in? Check these out and figure out what you will sacrifice for them:

http://wordmadeflesh.org/

http://www.ijm.org/

www.callandresponse.com

http://www.christianitytoday.com/tcw/2008/janfeb/2.21.html

http://www.theblindproject.com/

Photo courtesy: sonyapryr.