2003-01-03 - The Promotion of Social Righteousness
Not Just for Presbyterians, Part 5
Resuming, our look at "The Great Ends of the Church," I would like to think a little bit about "promoting social righteousness."
Of course, if you asked half a dozen Christians their definition of "social righteousness," you might garner half a dozen disparate responses. You might even get different ones from half a dozen Presbyterians or Methodists or Baptists. God made us individuals, and nowhere does that stand out so much, as in our opinions on social issues!
Do you ever wonder how two people, both devout Christians, can come to such utterly opposite stands on issues such as the death penalty, abortion or "Welfare?" My personal take on this, is that there is truth on both sides of almost every issue, and God's intent is that for those of us who are trying to follow His leading but seem to be heading in opposite directions, we should listen to and learn from each other. Besides, when everyone thinks exactly alike on every issue, that is not a church; it is a cult.
We can't agree with each other on everything, and it's not our role to do the Holy Spirit's work in someone's life, or to judge him or her for a stand for or against any social issue. It is our role, to do what God wants US to do, to pray, seek input and follow what we believe is the Spirit's leading in our own lives.
We need to look at what God's word says. And while we should take into account what our spiritual leaders say (as some of them have experience and knowledge about certain issues), our final plumbline should be the Bible.
One definition of righteousness from the 1996 "Strong's Enhanced Lexicon" is "justice or the virtue which gives each his due." My personal favorite Bible verse provides a summary of what God asks of us:
"He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8, NASB)
Some people have the idea that Christianity is a nice way to get to Heaven, but that we shouldn't meddle with what's going on in the world, in such arenas as politics or social "causes." But our Lord was a "meddler."
He meddled by urging us to share our earthly possessions with the poor.
Matthew 19:21 (NASB) Jesus said to him, If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."
He meddled by associating with people who were treated unfairly because of their race and sex, and treating them with respect. (See John 4.)
He meddled by encouarging involvement with justice issues, whether ministering to crime victims (See the parable of the Good Samaritan.) or visiting prisoners (See Matthew 25.)
Each of us has our own role to fulfill in the arena of "social righteousness." For some of us, it may mean writing a letter to a Congressman. For another, it could be ministering to a victim of assault. To yet someone else, the primary role could be sitting in one's home and praying for those who are victims of injustice. If you don't know what God wants you to do, think about the areas in which you are gifted, seek the advice of mature Christians who know you well - and then ask God Himself. As James says (1:5), God will grant our requests for wisdom. I challenge you to do this. You really can make a difference in your world.