Social Justice. What is it? Many people have many different answers to a question that is central to the Christian Faith.
“How can it be central.” you might ask. “The words ‘social justice’ never come together in the bible.
You would be right there. I can’t think of any mention of the words ‘social’ and ‘justice’ put beside each other in the bible. However, I think its pretty clear from the beginning that God desired for those with plenty to help those less fortunate.
I can’t give scriptural quotations for any of these things, but I will assure you they are in your bible. First, in the OT, God’s Law told people to set aside the wheat on the ouskirts of fields for the poor to harvest. His intentions were to make it where the poor always have a place to eat, even when times are extremely hard. Another example from the Old Testament is the Year of Jubilee. Its interesting to note, that while commanded by God, Israel never in its entire history had a Jubilee. The point of Jubilee was, I believe, every fifty years all debts were erased and everything started at zero.
Then, when Jesus comes along, we see God incarnate eating with, fellowshipping, and living among the poor and the broken. He didn’t come with a message to the poor that if they just got their stuff together, they could be rich like everyone else. He empathized with them, and he said “blessed are the poor, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” The poor understand the Kingdom of God much more easily than do those that are rich.
In short, God cares about the poor and the outcast. He desires for all of us to strive for justice in the lives of those who have arrived at poverty because of an injust system and he asks us to help those who have made bad decisions,not just monitarily, but socially. Loving our neighbor is the root message of christianity, but our neighbor isn’t just the family next door in suburbia. Its the single mother with three kids on welfare living in the projects downtown. Its the homeless man you pass every morning sleeping on a park bench outside of your office. Its the gang bangers and the addicts. The prosititutes and pimps. Its the least of these. Its social justice