Some of us as people of faith want to live more simply because it frees up our resources so that we can assist others who are in greater need. But social justice requires more.
The phrase “Social Justice” has been in the news lately. One pundit recently said, “If your church or pastor or priest is talking about social justice, leave that church and run as fast as you can. It’s a code word. Social Justice is forced redistribution, socialism, and Marxism.” Interesting.
I understand social justice to mean that it’s not about the redistribution of wealth as it is about asking the question, “Why are people poor in the first place?”
Personal steps towards helping another brother or sister makes this more than a hypothetical argument. Personal response reminds us that blaming others for being poor is just a game we play in our heads to feel relief from the responsibility to do anything about it. Social justice begins with personal relationships and our action, which gives us the passion and motivation to work with others on a larger level. But it always starts because “I knew someone.”
Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners, speaker, author, and activist who has been focused on social justice for decades recently said,
But we do say that while social justice begins with our own lives, choices, and sacrifices, it doesn’t end there. Those of us who have actually done this work for years all understand that you can’t just pull the bodies out of the river, and not send somebody upstream to see what or who is throwing them in. Serving the poor is a fundamental spiritual requirement of faith, but challenging the conditions that create poverty in the first place is also part of biblical social justice.
And Jesus believed in social justice when he said (Luke 4:18-19),
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
he has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
I want to live more simply so that I won’t be distracted from those who have less resources and rights than I do.
Wallis says that, “we start with changing lives, not policies; we always start on the home front in our families, congregations, and communities; and only address public policies when we can’t do it ourselves.”
So what good news do you have to share with the poor? I hope it is more than words.
Peace be with you.
This brief video asks, “Where did all the good people go?”
Resources on Social Justice: