Advancing Justice – Our response to racism and oppression
The world is voicing its hurt, its pain, its deep sensibilities regarding justice. What is the bridge’s position on the many social justice issues that are so prevalent today? Well, if we take the Bible seriously then justice should be a big deal for us. God does not suggest; He commands that we “do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed” (Jer. 22:3). Jesus declared His mission to “proclaim good news to the poor…liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18, quoting Isaiah 61:1, 2). “Seek justice” (Isaiah 1:17) is a clarion call of Scripture.
The early church proclaimed the Gospel in a way that subverted the mutual racism between first century Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles. They brought reconciliation and real community where there had been hostility and division for centuries. We should all seek a world forever purged of racism, where justice prevails, and greed and tyranny are permanently replaced with compassion and love.
A biblical worldview calls us to be cross-cultural bridge-builders for Christ. The Apostle Paul spoke of and lived out cultural integration when he says that he has become “all things to all men” for the sake of the Gospel. Paul spurred a lot of reconciliation between opposing groups because he preached the Good News in which our new identity “in Christ” is our deepest identity. Jesus destroyed the wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile; male or female; the socio-economically indebted; or the wealthy to make for Himself “one humanity” (Galatians 3:28). Jesus, and therefore all Christ followers, are about uniting people from every tongue, tribe, and nation and doing whatever they can to establish harmony on the foundation of justice.
Gideon Strauss is the CEO of the nonpartisan Center for Public Justice (CPJ) in Washington, D.C. Strauss frames CPJ’s work theologically. He says, “If Jesus is truly risen, that shapes how we live out our callings as citizens and office holders (leaders).” We, the bridge, resonate with the mission of CPJ, which is “to equip citizens, develop leaders, and shape policy in pursuit of our purpose to serve God, advance justice, and transform public life” and, as Strauss puts it, to do so “gracefully and hopefully”. This fits perfectly into our vision of being “transformed people impacting their world in Christ”.
Strauss defines and sees justice realized “when all God’s creatures receive what is due them and contribute out of their uniqueness to our common existence.”
Tim Keller in his book Generous Justice writes, “What does it mean to love your neighbour?… By depicting a Samaritan helping a Jew, Jesus could not have found a more forceful way to say that anyone at all in need—regardless of race, politics, class, and religion—is your neighbour.” Jesus so clearly connects our love of God with our love of our neighbour. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us how to do this: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
It is our prayer, as the bridge, that God would continue to graciously sow truth into our hearts That He would cause us to love in such a way that we hurt when others hurt; that we stand for those who can’t stand; that we speak up for those whose voice has been muffled; and that we are leaning into the solution rather than being paralyzed by fear. Additionally, may God remove from our hearts, minds, and behaviour anything that contributes to a system or culture that oppresses, racializes, or dehumanizes another person. This is our prayer.
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” —Micah 6:8
Brian Childs | Lead Pastor