Monday, March 15, 2010

Social Justice

Insidious - the idea that we couch justice for the poor as something differently than for the wealthy. Justice for the upper middle class and above comes in one form. Justice for the lower classes often comes in another form. Since we the upper class love life as we know it, we don't want to really hear that half of our society isn't living like us. So we call it 'social justice,' and we hold it as something that is optional for followers of Jesus.

When we really hear the call of Jesus, we'll use whatever legal means available to seek justice and mercy. After falling in love with African orphans over the past year, I simply don't understand how our hearts, minds, and souls are not fully broken for the things of Jesus Christ?

When we talk about sustainability for the poor, we will not be capable of attaining it without government support of some kind. The poor need safety. The poor need education. The poor need health care. The poor need jobs that will provide food for their families. Without these realities, the church can throw all the money in the world at poverty, but it will end up falling short.

To acknowledge that governments need to work in conjunction with the church, or state it visa vera if you will, is a necessity if we really want to care for the marginalized in our society. There are not other options that will provide sustained hope.


joel shaffer said...


When it comes to helping the poor, I think both the church as well as the government do not do a very good job in helping the poor. The question is not whether we help the poor, or even who should help the poor (it should be everyone in my opinion), but how.

Unfortunately, the government, certain social service non-profits, and churches end up creating dependency rather than truly helping the poor become economically independent.

Might I recommend a book for you to read? It is called, "When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor and Yourself." Here is a review from Scott McKnight's Jesus Creed.

randy buist said...


I appreciate the thoughts, and thanks for the link. While I have yet to read the book, my perspective is similar to the way the review was written.

Over the past sixteen months, I've engaged with a development program in a rural community in Kenya. It's a long term project that is doing very well.

While I do agree that not all aid helps the poor, we also need to remember that our intentions are also important. Some people hurt the poor, and themselves, by being selfish. Others hurt the poor by getting involved with poorly conceived ideas. While neither are helpful, one perspective is still chasing after the heart of God.