The Resurrection Power to Do Justice

Many of the churches around us focus their attention on social justice. I am very grateful for those who are willing to spend their prized time, their limited energy, and money they don’t have to get their hands dirty to serve the hurting. We need more and more people who will see that serving the oppressed and marginalized is worth their effort. May it be!

But, how will it be? I need to bring up a question. Knowing my own heart and my tendency to doubt God’s goodness in a painful world and his power among a people who thrive on dominating each other, I need to question whether or not this is all that the Father wants. Is following Jesus merely doing good deeds in Jesus’ name or is there something that defines his people that is deeper, more primal, and more central to his heart?

On its face, that kind of “social justice” Christianity looks like a helpful “Christiany” thing. But what often lies underneath the surface is a system of disbelief- or at least a lost hope in the power of Jesus to transform lives at the core of who we are. It is possible to do justice, using Jesus’ name, and the motivation behind the doing is a belief that social justice is the most meaningful part of what it means to be a Christian. Doing justice (though a beautiful thing) is emphatically NOT the core. 

Doing justice is the fruit of something more profound: just people do justice. Or, to say it another way, “people resurrected to be just” do justice. People who have been transformed by the resurrection power of Jesus are transformed out of the death of radical selfishness (even manifesting in good deeds) and into the life of empowered love and self sacrifice.

The Samaritans’ compassion was a God- fueled compassion. This God-fueled compassion is shown in his both his sacrificial help on the road and the joyful endurance in coming back to the inn the next day to help some more. Is is not mere human willpower; it is the resurrection power of Jesus’ life that indwells every believer. 

This resurrection power is the power of God to change one person’s life. This must come first. This must not be left out. We don’t emphasize “at the root of our soul spiritual conversion” because we want to make people feel “less than” or condemn them. No, we focus our attention on what the gospel can do to transform someone’s life so that they can find the deep, resonant, fulfilling joy in doing justice with the very same heart that Jesus did.

Then we don’t have to guilt people to volunteer; we unleash people to be the change agents in the world they already are.

It is this personal transformation to not just doing justice, but being just that changes the world. But, there is one more part to this…and it might be the most important part of all. (more…)