06 July, 2011

Should Christians be at the forefront?

This is a blog written by JUSTSalvos friend Steve Cooke, taken from http://www.voteforothers.com/

"Recently I've been involved in a series of discussions around faith and activism - how the Christian faith is involved in bringing about social change. The conversations that spurred from these events have been really encouraging and I've loved delving a little deeper into questions of Christian activism, especially with those who would not label themselves as Christian.

I suspect I will write a number of posts relating to this topic, but today, I want to reflect a little on one of the most common questions that came up in these conversations. The question is whether there is particular reason that Christians should be more involved in confronting social injustice than people of different faiths and world views.

In other words, do Christians make better activists than those who aren't Christians? Will social change will not come about unless "the church" is involved?

I often wish that this was true, especially in my own life, but it's actually not what I mean at all.

I do, however, believe that Christians should be at the forefront of bringing about social change. Why? Because that's what discipleship calls for.

When I look at the example of Jesus, he was constantly challenging the unjust systems of society; unjust systems that flourished because relationship between neighbours had been broken and relationships between levels of power had been abused. The practice of living a "religious" life in Jesus' culture had been so corrupted that the very act of doing good actually meant you needed to break religious rules!

In the opening chapters of the book of Mark you see Jesus healing people and doing acts of mercy and justice, but he was breaking the laws of the sabbath to do so. Immediately he becomes an "enemy" of the religious leaders because of his breaking of these laws, and his claim of authority to do so.

Jesus was not a social activist who ran around looking for things to complain about, things to change. Instead, he was ushering in the Kingdom of God and challenging things that were not in-line with what God would want for this world. As it says in Ephesians, he was walking with the full armour of God and standing against the devils schemes - both personally and publicly.

If Christians are disciples of Jesus, do we have much choice but to walk the same beautiful path?

Do Christians inherently make the best social activists? No. But if they are disciples of Jesus, they will be at the forefront of seeking out injustice that doesn't exist in God's Kingdom and will take actions to end it.

When injustice exists, Christians should be amongst the first to discover it, the first the shed light on it, and the first to declare that in the midst of a narrative of pain, loss and anger, that there is good news! This is not the end of the story!

What's more, the bible says that Christians will also be empowered to challenge those things. Paul says that God's power is at work in the lives of Christ's followers (Eph 3:7 & 20 for example) as they live life according to God's will.

As Christians seek to follow Jesus they will inevitably find things that do not align with God's will for this world, and they will also be empowered to challenge those things, both personally and publicly.

If this is true, why would we expect Christians to be anywhere but on the front lines against injustice?"

- Steve Cooke

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