Social Justice and the Fear of God

“Social Justice” is about changing the plight of a group of people who are being treated unfairly by the powers that be. Usually, the battle for fairness is about wealth distribution, unachievable opportunities, and/or privileges which are nearly impossible to obtain by the non-elite. Unfortunately, many Christians will combat this or attempt to make things better by choosing to impose Biblical morale upon those in charge (who do not fear God)…. But, such is unwise.

Why?

Look at what Paul wrote to the Corinthians…

1 Corinthians 2:14 (HCSB)
…the unbeliever does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually.

The book of Proverbs says something very similar…

Proverbs 10:17 (HCSB)
The one who follows instruction is on the path to life, but the one who rejects correction goes astray.

It is important to recognize that behavioral change, correction (which is in line with Biblical morale), is only possible with people who fear God… those who are on the path to life. Those who lack the fear of God, the unbeliever, they go astray. In other words, he or she rejects correction.

Flesh vs. Spirit

Again, the error that Christians make all too often is that we expect the powers that be (who do not fear God) to make right the social injustices occurring under their watch… simply because we demand such changes in the name of God. It’s crazy, because those who do not fear God, those who live according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit, are not even capable of adhering to these demands…

Romans 8:5-8 (HCSB)
For those who live according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit. For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

In light of this, the question we must ask ourselves is…

Why do we ever even bother to demand from the powers that be (who do not fear God) a reversal of their social injustice when they are not able to really change anything?

Believing the Bible

Either we believe the Bible, or we do not. What we demand of the fallen world around us (which is hostile to God, who does not submit to His precepts, for it is unable to do so), says a lot about what we actually believe about what God has said. It’s a litmus test of our Biblical acumen, seeing how we handle scripture with respect to the moral expectations which we place upon the unbeliever.

What Success Looks Like

Look, social justice is important, don’t get me wrong, but it can only happen successfully when the powers that be actually fear God. But, if they do not, then we are just spinning our wheels when we demand of them this kind of change.

Below is an example of success when social justice in the Old Testament was demanded. Notice though, change only occurred because those in charge feared God…

Nehemiah 5:1-13 (HCSB)
There was a widespread outcry from the people and their wives against their Jewish countrymen. Some were saying, “We, our sons, and our daughters are numerous. Let us get grain so that we can eat and live.” Others were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields, vineyards, and homes to get grain during the famine.” Still others were saying, “We have borrowed money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. We and our children are just like our countrymen and their children, yet we are subjecting our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters are already enslaved, but we are powerless because our fields and vineyards belong to others.”

I became extremely angry when I heard their outcry and these complaints. After seriously considering the matter, I accused the nobles and officials, saying to them, “Each of you is charging his countrymen interest.” So I called a large assembly against them and said, “We have done our best to buy back our Jewish countrymen who were sold to foreigners, but now you sell your own countrymen, and we have to buy them back.” They remained silent and could not say a word. Then I said, “What you are doing isn’t right. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God and not invite the reproach of our foreign enemies? Even I, as well as my brothers and my servants, have been lending them money and grain. Please, let us stop charging this interest. Return their fields, vineyards, olive groves, and houses to them immediately, along with the percentage of the money, grain, new wine, and olive oil that you have been assessing them.”

They responded: “We will return these things and require nothing more from them. We will do as you say.”

So I summoned the priests and made everyone take an oath to do this. I also shook the folds of my robe and said, “May God likewise shake from his house and property everyone who doesn’t keep this promise. May he be shaken out and have nothing!”

The whole assembly said, “ Amen,” and they praised the Lord. Then the people did as they had promised.

I repeat, unless those in power fear God, nothing will ever change, especially in this type of endeavor…

Godspeed, to the brethren!

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