Originally published on March 24, 2018.
“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
—Amos 5:24, NRSV
Volume One: Social Justice
“Houston, we have a problem.” Tom Hanks spoke this line in the 1995 film Apollo XIII. The line alerted the Mission Control Center in Houston that the Apollo spacecraft had suffered a crippling explosion.
It’s actually a misquote.
Command Module Pilot Jack Swigert spoke the original line to Mission Control. Swigert said, ”Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.” I see why movie director Ron Howard changed the wording. The original isn’t as juicy as “Houston, we have problem.” The Hank’s revision is much more quotable.
So I will rephrase and revise Tom Hank’s revision:
“World, we have a problem.”
“United States of America, we have a problem.”
“Disciples of Jesus around the globe, we have a problem.”
The problem isn’t new. It’s as old as humanity. It was addressed in the legislation of the Pentateuch millennia ago. It was addressed by the prophets of Israel centuries ago. It was a major concern of Jesus’ kingdom manifesto when he walked the earth. It’s been addressed by advocates of social justice globally for decades. And, a few visionary disciples have been addressing the problem in our churches for the past couple of decades.
The problem is a problem of justice. Social justice. Or, lack of justice. Social justice. That’s the problem.
I rarely hear issues of social justice talked about in our churches. Not in a broad, wide-ranging manner. I’ve participated in discussions on race. I’ve participated in a more limited way on discussions of sexism and ageism. I’ve participated in discussions on Christians and the military.
We’ve had more wide-ranging discussions on poverty and have even created a parachurch organization to administer our global response to world poverty. This response to poverty includes free medical treatment for the sick, early childhood development initiatives, aids prevention and treatment, housing and vocational education for lepers, housing and education for orphans, and the list continues. Kudos to Hope-Worldwide and its sponsoring churches and individuals for giving the poor a voice in our movement of churches.
But I’ve never participated in a discussion on what is the proper Christian response both as individuals and as churches to issues like human trafficking, immigration reform, abusive child labor practices, abortion, gun-regulation in the United States, criminal justice reform, sentencing reform, homelessness, poverty, greed, abuse of authority (including church authority), sexual harassment, environmentalism, inequitable distribution of wealth, and the list continues.
You might think, “What’s the point in discussing something like human trafficking. Human trafficking is wrong and I’m against it. ‘Nuff said”
Okay. But what are we going to do about it? What can we as a movement say and do to help shine a light on the evils of human trafficking so that governments decide to take action against those who perpetrate such evil?
This should be discussed.
So, I want to start some discussions. Why? Because the Bible is not silent on these issues.
Instead, the Bible is filled with verses on “justice.” Here’s a sample:
Psalm 37:28 states, “For the Lord loves justice.”
Psalm 37:30 reads, “The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak justice.”
Psalm 82:3, states, “Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.”
Psalm 103:6 says, “The Lord works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed.”
Proverbs 29:26 reads, “Many seek the favor of a ruler, but it is from the Lord that one gets justice.”
Isaiah 1:17 says, “Learn to do good;
rescue the oppressed,
defend the orphan,
plead for the widow.”
Jeremiah 9:24 states, “‘But let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord; I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight,” says the Lord.”
In Micah 6:8 Micah writes, “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
In Matthew 23:23, Jesus says, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others.”
Yahweh loves justice. Jesus chastised the scribes and Pharisees for neglecting justice. Do we love or neglect justice?
Amos 5:24 reads, “Let justice roll down like water.”
Let’s get justice rolling.
“Let Justice Roll.”
—Dr. G. Steve Kinnard, March 24, 2018
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