Tuesday, October 18, 2011

No Acceptable Targets

I'm not in love with the term "social justice".  I love the idea (as it applies to the church.  It won't work as a economic or political model), just not the terminology. What is being given is not justice - its grace.

Since Jesus himself walked the earth the only entity with the power and authority to eliminate hunger and disease and death has been the church.  The extent to which those things continue to exist in our world is directly proportionate to our failure as Christians.  The only cure for fear and hunger and disease and loneliness is Jesus.  As Christians we fail when we deny love and compassion to any one for any reason.  If our buildings are not sanctuaries for the dirty and weak and hurting then we are wasting our time and resources.  We are called to love.

I have a small problem with some of what I've seen and read lately coming from Christian leaders on this front.  It seems that some have not stopped hating - they have simply chosen more socially acceptable targets for their hate and envy.  I've read some pretty nasty admonitions of wealthy conservative Christians.  I don't believe it is necessary to demonize people who fail to give and love like they should in order for us to give and love like we should.  I think a lot of really wealthy people need Jesus.  A lot of people sitting in pews of traditional conservative churches need Jesus.  A lot of people need Jesus.  When these people refuse to give, be it money or compassion, they are wrong.  It doesn't help for us to hate and judge them because we feel like they hate and judge others.  We can't be selfish with our compassion because we think they are selfish with their money. When we make the Southern Baptist or Wall Street the enemy we give ground to the actual enemy.  This is still definition by rejection.

Where there is hate and envy and judgement in us it has to be purged - not redirected.  We have to destroy those things in ourselves no matter what form they take.


Lindsay Mizell said...

I guess since St. Thomas of Aquinas is dead, we can't ask his exact meaning of the social justice term. I don't really have a problem with it...in fact, I like it. But...what I like even better is Tim Keller's idea of "generous justice". What we are giving really and truly is justice if we use Keller's definition (and I do) of it as: "justice is giving humans their due as people in the image of God". But, it is only possible to act with justice because you have been saved by grace. Cause and effect.
I like your call to equal mercy for everyone....even rich people. If God's grace is truly for everyone from every socioeconomic status, then so should ours. However, the idea of taking more than your due (which I realize is a very relative idea) should be criticized and brought to light. It has to be. The scriptures do it in a very raw and real way. I wrestle a lot with how we are supposed to criticize full of grace and mercy. Criticize in attempt to draw others to Christ, not alienate them from him.

Chris said...

I like the term better with that definition of justice. I still think there is a problem with your terminology. To say wealthy always take is stereotypical. Some (probably most) earn it. You can argue at there is greed in the keeping, but not always in the earning. I like the idea of approaching the subject with grace and mercy, but outright criticism is not the answer and I don't think what Jesus does is criticize.

I hate this analogy,and I know you will too, but it seems the most socially relevant. Wealth has become the new aids. It's taken by some as a sign that one has engaged in a sinful lifestyle and can thus be hated and stripped of rights. Wealth is not a sin, greed is. I don't think governments should infringe on any human right, no matter which sin people attach to it.

The issue has to addressed, things cannot go unchanged. I believe there is a way to make those changes without hate and judgement. We have to win hearts. Jesus has to be the difference. We can ask for change, beg that they see the depravity of others, but if they can't see it in themselves they are never going to give in a way that will change the world.

Lindsay Mizell said...

*I'd like to ammend my comment to say "greedy people" instead of "rich people"...not the same thing.