By Madi Henke, Resonate Monmouth
We live in a broken world. From the time Adam and Eve first rebelled until now, we have lived in a world separated from God and his original design. Injustice, and the impact of it on our lives, is not foreign to us. Too often our imperfect world leads to people being used, marginalized, underpaid, homeless, abused, and manipulated. These issues can either be very apparent or out of sight and out of mind as we go about our lives.
As a college student, the closest thing to the news that I ever saw was on Facebook or Twitter. Even still, there are plenty of articles or stories that reveal the extent of the evil in our world on these social media platforms. I remember my world being rocked by first learning about current human slavery and sex trafficking, so I started to research more.
The statistics and stories that I have found are astonishing and need to be addressed. Today there are more than 40 million enslaved people in the world; more people enslaved than at any point in history. One in four victims of forced labor is a child, and trafficking generates about 150 billion dollars annually (data from International Justice Mission). Even just scratching the surface, we see mental illness leading to homelessness, families on the street, intentionally unsolved crime due to broken judicial systems, and people fleeing their countries in fear of their government.
I have gotten caught up in the false dichotomy of either thinking that God is indifferent to the very apparent dysfunctions in our world or to blame for what is happening. Neither is right. As Christians, we need to know the heart of God when it comes to social justice and how to obey based on what He says. Without knowing God’s heart towards the evil things happening, we can grow cynical and sad, with no hope for redemption and healing in these areas.
Here’s the truth, and let it sink down to your very toes and be the foundation from which you view injustice: God’s heart is FOR the lost and brokenhearted. Over and over throughout the Bible we see his mercy and comfort towards those who are oppressed, as well as his wrath towards those who take advantage of those in a lesser position like the poor, widows, orphans, and the foreigners living among us. God is not evil. In fact, God has made a way for restoration and salvation for everyone: from the slave to the master, the abused and the bully, the victim and the villain. Through his great love for us, he sent his only Son to take on the wrath of God towards all brokenness and sin, and to defeat death.
Injustice comes from living in a broken, screwed up world. “Justice belongs to God (Isaiah 30:18), and so when we seek and find God, we seek and find justice. By seeking Christ, our perspective of justice changes from our own personal perspectives to God’s perspective” (Bryce Young, Desiring God article). This gives hope to the enslaved, justice to the slave owner, and courage to the believer who feels too overwhelmed to do anything to help.
While we need programs and organizations to allocate resources and manpower to help these injustices, this is also a local church issue. God created the local church in order to share the Kingdom of God with the world. We see that the early church took care of orphans and widows in their communities and cities (James 1:27). Matthew 4:45-46 states, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” We are called to look different than the non-believers around us. If we love each other, that is awesome. However, what sets us apart from other people is when we inconvenience ourselves to serve and love those who are different and difficult to love.
As Christians, we are called to be transformed by Christ and step into obedience to what He has asked us to. 1 John 3 states “but if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” We cannot be a people who solely talk about the things we think we need to change, but a people that have lives that reflect what we say.
This is heavy. So where do we start? Now that we see God’s heart towards social justice and our role, how can you personally take action? Here are some practical tips:
Learn about the needs in your area. Talk to teachers, police officers, and local schools. This is one of the best ways to learn about the current needs in your area. Teachers and police officers see a large part of the community and can help give knowledge on where to start.
Take time to research. Although it is inconvenient and can be burdensome to learn about what is happening, take some time to see what is happening in our world. You don’t need to change the world by yourself, but maybe you can start to give a little or bring awareness to your campus. Some places to start (for trafficking) are: IJM.org/slavery & enditmovement.com.
Pray and invite others in. Ask God to show you where you can be used to serve in your community and invite people to serve alongside you. What a great way to build your current community, and evangelize to the non-believers around you!
As Bryce Young put it, “on the other hand, ... every friend of yours interested in social justice who doesn’t know Jesus is like a blind man demanding that the walls be painted his favorite color”. The greatest injustice in the world is that 2 billion people have heard the good news of Jesus while 5 billion sit in ignorant darkness. May we be a people that first love Jesus and make disciple-makers who have hearts that are burdened for the lost and marginalized.
I pray and hope (even for myself) that we are a people who don’t just say nice things, but serve the hurting in our communities and across the world. Would the way we approach injustice be one of the best ways that we evangelize. God has the perfect view of justice, and the perfect plan to redeem the world and his people to himself through the good news of the Gospel. Being the people of Christ, let’s love those around us as we have been loved and pursued by our Father; not out of obligation, but out of a heart that has been radically transformed by the true freedom of the Gospel.
Young, Bryce. “Only Christians Understand True Social Justice.” Desiring God, 18 Feb. 2017, www.desiringgod.org/articles/only-christians-understand-true-social-justice.
“End Slavery in Our Lifetime.” International Justice Mission, www.ijm.org/.