Does Social Justice Love Your Neighbor?

I looked up the word social justice on the internet and found some interesting information. According to business directory.com, social justice is defined as the fair and proper administration of laws conforming to the natural law that all persons, irrespective of ethnic origin, gender, possessions, race, religion, etc., are to be treated equally and without prejudice. Then Wikipedia contends that social justice generally refers to the idea of creating a society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being.

The term “social justice” was adopted by a Jesuit in the 1840s, based on the work of St. Thomas Aquinas who wrote about both capitalist and socialist theories from a natural law viewpoint. Then under John Wesley’s direction, Protestants (in particular Methodists) became leaders in many social justice issues of the day, including the prison reform and abolitionist movements. Wesley himself was among the first to preach for slaves rights attracting significant opposition. Early Christians in North America established hospitals, universities, and many other social institutions based on their views about social justice.

The book of James is full of reasons why someone who professes to be Christian should “love your neighbor as yourself.” In chapter 2, verses 15 -16 (NLT), James says, “Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?” He goes on to say in verses 17, “Faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.”

There are movements afoot today, who would take the idea of social justice out of the hands of believing Christians and make it a political issue. They pit Conservatives and Liberals against each other claiming that one party is better than the other because of their social conscience. In reality, it was never intended to reflect a political bias at all but to reflect a person’s heart. In order for one to be fully engaged in helping the poor, or loving their neighbor, they must first have a heart that emanates the love of Jesus.

But there are a lot of people, you say, who help the poor who are not professing Christians. True but then what are their motives? Some call it earning brownie points, trying to be good enough so that, when the time comes, God might allow them entrance into heaven. Some wish to rise in political circles, or be recognized for their community involvement. When the motive is selfish, how can that person truly love their neighbor?

True social justice gives all honor and glory to Jesus Christ, not the person giving or demonstrating that love. In fact anonymity is the best way to ensure that self is taken out of the equation. True social justice is the result of a person’s love and devotion to Jesus Christ, and has no bearing on politics, religious affiliation, skin color, or socio-economic status. It’s based on need, and nothing else. If a person needs, then the person who is demonstrating love, provides, not because of an obligation but because Jesus loved us enough to die for us. We did nothing to earn His love but our gratitude is displayed when we’re His arms and legs to the people around us.

For further study:  Ex.23:24-25; Deut.2:4-6

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