Archive for the category “Justice”

True justice points people toward Jesus the Just

Ed Stetzer writes in Sojourners magazine about new research documenting “a growing awareness of and involvement in social justice ministries among Protestant churches in the United States”:

handsTHE LEADERSHIP of 12Stone Church, a multi-campus congregation based in Gwinnett County, Ga., became increasingly concerned about how home foreclosures, rampant unemployment, and other financial strains were impacting families in metro Atlanta. They set an ambitious goal of providing relief to 5,000 families in their church and community. Eventually they raised more than $550,000 through designated gifts, many from church members who were themselves unemployed. …

Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, N.C., has mercy ministries built into the DNA of the church. They’ve adapted Rick Warren’s PEACE Plan: plant churches, evangelize the world, aid the poor and sick, care for the orphan and the oppressed, and equip leaders.

Working through the Raleigh-based nonprofit Help One Now, Imago Dei is partnering with an orphanage in Haiti and sponsoring children. Through this ministry, the church is providing basic needs, including food, clean water, and health care. They also support education programs so that the children will be equipped to one day provide for their own families. …

IMAGO DEI AND 12Stone are only two of the many Protestant churches that are not only talking about caring for others, they are taking action. More churches are finding ways to make social action a natural outflow of their missional response to the world, both locally and globally.

According to a series of telephone surveys conducted by LifeWay Research between 2008 and 2012, there is a growing awareness of and involvement in social justice ministries among Protestant churches in the United States, aimed at caring for the forgotten, disenfranchised, and oppressed.

Almost all—95 percent—of the 1,000 or more Protestant senior pastors we surveyed agreed that caring for the poor is mandated by the gospel. When pastors believe this, their churches tend to care more about social justice issues. Studies show the percentage of churches engaged in care for the poor has increased over the past four years. In 2012, 90 percent of Protestant pastors said their churches had “mobilized its members to directly engage and care for the poor in their communities,” up from 76 percent in 2009 and 85 percent in 2010.

Read the full article by clicking here.

MLK’s dream: Good society, based on God’s moral law

MLK serve othersBreakPoint publishes this article by the late Chuck Colson:

More than 40 years ago, on August 28, 1963, a quarter million people gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial. They marched here for the cause of civil rights. And that day they heard Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, a speech in which he challenged America to fulfill her promise.

“I have a dream,” he said, “that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.’”

While we know of the speech, most people are unaware that King also penned one of the most eloquent defenses of the moral law: the law that formed the basis for his speech, for the civil rights movement, and for all of the law, for that matter.

In the spring of 1963, King was arrested for leading a series of massive non-violent protests against the segregated lunch counters and discriminatory hiring practices rampant in Birmingham, Ala. While in jail, King received a letter from eight Alabama ministers. They agreed with his goals, but they thought that he should call off the demonstrations and obey the law.

King explained why he disagreed in his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail. “One might well ask,” he wrote, “how can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer “is found in the fact that there are two kinds of laws: just laws … and unjust laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws,” King said, “but conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”

How does one determine whether the law is just or unjust? A just law, King wrote, “squares with the moral law of the law of God. An unjust law … is out of harmony with the moral law.”

Then King quoted Saint Augustine: “An unjust law is no law at all.” He quoted Thomas Aquinas: “An unjust law is a human law not rooted in eternal or natural law.”

This is the great issue today in the public square: Is the law rooted in truth? Is it transcendent, immutable, and morally binding? Or is it, as liberal interpreters argue, simply whatever courts say it is? Do we discover the law, or do we create it?

Many think of King as a liberal firebrand, waging war on traditional values. Nothing could be further from the truth. King was a great conservative on this central issue, and he stood on the shoulders of Augustine and Aquinas, striving to restore our heritage of justice rooted in the law of God.

Were he alive today, I believe he’d be in the vanguard of the pro-life movement. I also believe that he would be horrified at the way in which out of control courts have trampled down the moral truths he advocated.

From the time of Emperor Nero, who declared Christianity illegal, to the days of the American slave trade, from the civil rights struggle of the sixties to our current battles against abortion, euthanasia, cloning and same-sex “marriage,” Christians have always maintained exactly what King maintained.

King’s dream was to live in harmony with the moral law as God established it. So this Martin Luther King Day, reflect on that dream — for it is worthy of our aspirations, our hard work, and the same commitment Dr. King showed.

Justice isn’t getting what I want

CC Thomas Samson / AFP Getty NC

CC Thomas Samson / AFP Getty NC

Did you notice the massive protest in France over the government’s plan to legalize same-sex marriage? Did it strike you as odd that hundreds of thousands of people in one of the world’s most completely secularized, post-Christian cultures would care enough about the issue to take to the streets? Why do you suppose it happened?

As I stared at a photo of the crowd, I was reminded that Romans 1:19-20 tells us that people instinctively know there is a Creator because they can see the marvels of creation. A person does not have to be a follower of any religion to realize the amazing universe around us is the work of an immensely powerful and intelligent being — and to realize that certain aspects of the creation clearly reflect an intentional design decision by the Creator.

The design of the human body in its male and female aspects clearly reflects the Creator’s intention about human reproduction and sexual relations. In fact, Genesis 1:27-28 tells us that God’s decision to create us male and female was directly related to humanity’s reflecting the fullness of his image, as well as his intention for the species to reproduce. If we have any intention of honoring God for who he is, we must respect his clear intentions for his creation.

Justice demands that no person be diminished, denigrated, or persecuted, but justice is not getting what I want. Justice is bringing circumstances into harmony with the way things ought to be. The way things ought to be is determined by the Creator’s intention in creation, not by our opinion or preference.

The sad fact is that all of God’s creation is broken, fractured by humanity’s willful selfishness and our determination to have what we want, rather than what God wants to give us. The Scripture is clear that all of us are broken, that the only difference is whether we are stubborn in indulging our brokenness or willing to allow God to heal us and begin the process of restoring us to the wholeness he originally intended us to enjoy.

People are broken in many ways, and we all want what we want. The fact is, however, we don’t get to redefine the fundamental realities of creation. One person may feel intimate affection for another person of the same sex — and in our culture we confuse emotional intimacy with sexual intimacy — but we can no more redefine God’s male/female intention than we can change the DNA with which we were born. We can insist on obeying our broken feelings and desires. Society can change its laws about the benefits enjoyed by those who choose to live together in partnership. Technology has even made it possible for us to superficially change the organs of reproduction. But we cannot change the fact that God created us male and female, as a reflection of his image, for the purpose of reproduction.

A country or state may adopt civil union legislation, but it cannot simply decide that one flesh marriage can happen between members of the same sex.

Laws can’t solve the problem of human brokenness and create justice. Sodomy laws were an injustice, but same-sex marriage laws only multiply the injustice. The truth is deeply ingrained, not only in our bodies, but even in the secular, post-Christian conscience. Deceiving ourselves about the nature of human sexuality will not change the facts of creation.

Christian, take this to heart: Condescension and hatred toward those who reject God’s intention in male/female creation cannot accomplish God’s justice. Healing brokenness and multiplying justice can only be done one to one, face to face — knowing and loving another person, understanding them at the deepest level, ministering to their real needs, and showing them how to experience the full, free, and forever life God created them to enjoy.

I am heartened that so many in France are not afraid to publicly declare their conviction about marriage and express their concern for the welfare of children adopted by gay couples. That’s a sign of healthy democracy. I would be more encouraged to know these same people had turned their backs on prejudice, hatred, and discrimination and are instead pursuing peace, healing, and reconciliation with others before God.

Related:
Lessons from the French on Marriage?
Lessons from France on Defending Marriage
Can the President Have a Marriage Agenda Without Talking About What Marriage Is?

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