Here is where the proverbial rubber met the road. At the TEDx Mile High conference I heard a lot of social justice issues coming to the fore front; the poor, the diseased, the enslaved and extorted. This ‘preaching’ (some speakers there would cringe at being likened to a religious leader) was very similar to the ideas I hear in my faith.
Compassion, Mercy and Justice! We cannot deny that in the Old Testament God addressed these issues with the Jews.
- “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the poor,
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives.
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound,
And even in the New Testament it is clear that Christ commanded the same of the church:
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Christ even referenced Isaiah 61 in Luke 4:18 when proclaiming his own purpose and mission.
So the question came to me: If our culture is now taking on the commands of God to the Jews in the OT and Christ to the Church in the NT – what is really different about the Church? Hmmmm
Sadly – maybe there isn’t much difference – BUT THERE SHOULD BE! Our culture is literally crying out for Good Samaritan’s but now we just call them Inspired Citizens. So we, as the church must finish the story. It is not enough to only provide for the poor, bind up wounds, and free the enslaved. There is a greater purpose.
Isaiah 61: 2-3 goes on to state the rest of this story.
- To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
- To grant to those who mourn in Zion –
To give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
That they may be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
We are called and commanded to meet the needs of our neighbors – the physical needs, provide food, innovative and simple technologies to help them feed themselves, ecological consciousness to preserve the land that sustains the people, intervention in government prosecution of those that violate the right of every human to live free.
We are appointed to do this. But as a Christian we do this so that what we fight for, what we provide in the physical, is simply a mirror of what Christ has done for their eternal being. There is a greater enemy than poverty, there is a greater intimidator than an abuser, there is one who craves the destruction of all humans that we cannot not battle with flesh and blood, money and food.
You see, the end of the story is this, Isaiah 61:4
- They shall build up the ancient ruins;
They shall raise up the former devastations;
They shall repair the ruined cities,
The devastations of many generations.”
This verse proclaims the ability to change the past, to alter the consequences of previous generations of sin. There is only one who transcends time and stops the consequences for eternity. Christ alone can redeem a soul, whether free or enslaved, poor or wealthy, wounded or whole.
We should care about issues of social justice, not because it is a trend, but because we can do in the flesh what God can do in their soul! Are we brave enough to be agents of this change and are we willing to seemingly jump on the band wagon of a social trend to engage in the things that Break God’s Heart?
So, I got a little preachy today – and maybe this message is for me – but maybe in some part it is a message for all of us! What do you think?