I saw that the other night Al Mohler and Jim Wallis debated whether or not proclamation of the Gospel includes social justice. I admit that I didn’t watch it. I am sure these two men had nuances to their position that I am oversimplifying, but I don’t understand why this is debated. If we believe that in the life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ everything is being recreated by God, and he is choosing a people to conform into the image of his Son, so that his Kingdom can be on earth as it is in heaven, why would there be a disconnection between that affirmation and seeking the justice sought by the prophets, by Christ, and by the actions of the Apostles?
If I believe God’s Kingdom will destroy the walls between race, gender, socio-economic class, and the like then won’t I live now in anticipation of that Kingdom because I believe it is the best thing because it is what God wants for the world? If in Jesus the Kingdom was previewed through healing and exorcism, why would I think the Gospel is divorced from the well-being of others? If our King told stories of Samaritans risking their own health for the Jewish other as the prime example of loving one’s neighbor as one’s self what excuse do I have for saying that the Gospel doesn’t impact everything from my view of war and warfare to whether or not people in my city go to bed hungry.
Listen, I say this as a person who doesn’t give money to buy Tom’s shoes. Sometimes I purchase from companies that I have heard have questionable ethics (I am typing on a Mac and I have a pair of Nikes). I don’t give much to charities at home or abroad and my greatest contribution to the poor and down trodden are to those who are in my local church whom I try to teach and for whom I pray. Even in this I stand on the shoulders of men and women who do much, much more than me for the poor, the sick, the addicted, and the homeless. I am no Mother Theresa looking for the next wound to cover.
But as I continually wrestle with what it means for me to say that I believe God has vindicated Jesus by raising him from the dead as an act of enthronement that previews the day when God’s Kingdom is fully established then I can’t help but think that this means I have a responsibility as a citizen of God’s Kingdom to be light and salt to the world around me, as the Spirit works through me, and this includes seeking justice in society. Sure, we may debate how this unfolds practically (e.g. I know some bloggers have participated in the Occupy Movement while I have no idea what it is intending to accomplish practically and therefore am a bit befuddled by its existence), but do we debate that it is something we must ponder in seriousness and that our meditation must lead to action as people of God’s Kingdom? I don’t think so, but maybe I am missing something?