Where is the Concern for Biblical Justice and People?

“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”  – Micah 6.8, NRSV

Why is it that most of the time when I hear Christians talking about the healthcare debate taking place in the political arena right now, what I normally hear is their concern over bureaucratic forms and procedures?  Last night I overheard another local pastor who was sitting next to me in a coffee shop spend thirty minutes talking (more like ranting) about healthcare and the perceived corruption of the government.  Not once did I hear him express and concern for people without adequate and affordable healthcare.  Have we forgotten that as God’s people, we are called to pursue justice?  Have we forgot that the object of justice, and hence the object of our concerns, is people and not bureaucratic forms and procedures. 

I don’t know who has the better answer of the two between Democrats and Republicans.  What I am confident about is that God could care less about what bureaucratic forms and procedures emerge, so long as his vision of (biblical) justice is pursued.  It seems that Christians either have or are losing sight of that.

So here is the question:  How do we get ourselves refocused on the biblical pursuit of justice?

8 responses to “Where is the Concern for Biblical Justice and People?

  1. We start seeing other folks as Jesus sees them.

    We take back the responsibility for caring for others; take it away from our government and privatize it. Then we sanctify it.

    We do that by doing it better than anyone else does or can or wants to.

    We turn loose of our death grip on our stuff (because our stuff wiil eventually kill us by drowning in it), sell it, and give. We leave behind the folks who say, “Let ‘er walk, preacher,” and start running until we fly.

    What are the chances of that happening?

  2. Keith,

    Thanks for your response. I do think Christians need to step up more individually, collectively, and cooperatively with other churches. I don’t think this means we need to take away whatever initiatives the government might pursue (after all, governments are called to act justly to which I take as pursueing justice as well) I am starting to smell some whiffs of churches realizing that benevolent help in biblical framework does not exclude benevolent budgets but means that our charity towards other in need must be more than just reliance upon a depersonalized budget. I also remember that when our son died, there were a lot of extra medical expences that the Insurance would not cover and some very generous Christians help in a variety of ways to decrease those expenses to a cost that my wife and I could handle paying back on a monthly basis in a timely manner. I have some other examples but I don’t want to take much more space in the comment section. But I think these are the sort of stories and conversations Christians/churches need to start having in order to spark the Spirit-filled imagination as to how we might pursue justice for those without healthcare.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  3. <>

    Great question; my answer to it was to produce a DVD-based series to help Christians work through a gospel-based perspective on mercy and justice in a small-group setting:

    http://citygospel.net
    http://www.amazon.com/Question-Mercy-Gospel-Application-Justice/dp/B0038PF1O4

    In Jesus who is truly just and merciful,

    Mick

  4. Well now … you’ve just started to medlin’!!!!

  5. Mick,

    Thanks for the link and resourceful tool. Tell me a little more about it; describe your approach a little bit for me. Thanks! And thanks for visiting the blog.

    Bobby,

    Medlin’ is necessary at times. I have written a larger article (1,200 words appx.) on this very issue within the framework of justice in the book of Deuteronomy, which I have submitted to Christianity Today to be published (I am still waiting on a reply from CT). However, in light of today’s passing of healthcare reform in the House of Represenatives, I may need to tweak some of the present tense language.

    I am just tired of seeing Christians more worried and passionate about worldly bureaucracy and politics (no matter how noble it seems) at the expense of the gospel in both its theological claims and ethical demands.

    Thanks for dropping by the blog.

  6. BTW Mick,

    Where are you at in Australia? I have friends that I attended seminary with who are planting churches in Wollongong.

  7. Hi Rex,

    I’m up in Brisbane – although friends of mine in Sydney told me about the new CoC plant going on in Wollongong; sounds interesting.

    I was just having a quick look at your blog from over at Jay’s blog; this post definitely caught my attention.

    Regarding the DVD; having interacted with a few churches that were very passionate about their theological beliefs but didn’t seem to be getting very connected with people in the margins, Steve and I decided to produce a curriculum that could be used to get Christians thinking through implications of the gospel for justice and mercy.

    The approach is a set of 6 pairs of lessons, so can span 6 or 12 weeks I guess. Each one is around 10 to 15 minutes of content, which is a mix of teaching, interviews, and “other” content, followed by questions for discussion. There’s a downloadable study guide. There are a couple of sample Youtube video clips on the citygospel.net website.

    I’d be happy to get a free copy of the DVD sent to you; if so, you can email me a postal address.

    In Jesus the true and perfect neighbor,

    Mick

  8. I posted the following comment on Keith Brenton’s blog (http://keithbrenton.blogspot.com/2010/03/health-care-reform.html) but I thought I would post it hear to help clarify my concern and what I believe is the solution:

    I must first commend you for giving a fair critique of both major political parties. I know not everyone will agree with your assement but your critique sounds genuinely neutral (as much as anyone can be). Further, I agree with your assesment when you say “I am saddened that it has become a wedge to further drive apart two extremist positions connected to the major political parties who believe they have the uncontested fealty of 100% of Americans.” To which I aslo concur with your response of “They do not.”

    Readers should know that I am pretty much an Anabaptist in my view towards civil government, although I do still believe it is permissible to vote if/when given the right and opportunity to do so. So that is my bias or the framework from which I express the following concern:

    I am simply growing more and more concerned that Christians in the United States have allowed the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom which Jesus preached as good news having appeared to be eclipsed by their concern for matters of secular politics, bureaucracy, and honest patriotism. Further, my fear is that this eclipse is becoming so severe that Christians have begun equating their concerns for politics of the nation as the kingdom concerns of God and his gospel. It is a phenomenon called nationalism (a term I am sure most are have heard before) and it is an egregious yet subtle form of idolatry.

    Based upon my understanding of scripture, it is my belief that God does will for all governments to act in a just manner and to that end, I can appreciate the concerns of Christians who raise the question of whether or not a particular government is acting in a just manner towards the people it serves and governs. However, as I listen to conversations taking place by Christians in the market place, as I listen to conversations taking place on the blogs, news-casts, etc… what I hear is not a concern for biblical justice. Instaed, I hear a concern for bureaucracy and constitutional procedures…are we to have a big or limited government, capitolistic or social, revisionist or founding father’s intent, etc… And here is where, as I read scripture and see what God is concerned about, I must candidly reply that God could care less about the American constitution and what form of goverment we have. What God is conerned about is the Good News of his Kingdom and one of the by-products of that concern is the well-being of people – especially the poor. And not only that, but his conern is global and not preferential to the United States or any of its political allies.

    I firmly believe that God is pleased when those who cannot care for themselves are cared for by others, regardless of what government forms assist in that endeavor. So what are Christians to do? Keep waiting for the government? Let’s not be so naive. I am aware that philosophies such as communism, socialism, and immerialism have failed but it is an allusion for any one of us to think that capitolism has brought about equal justice for all. However, we are all believers in the good news to not only change people lives in a holistic sense (bringing redemption from sin, hope in place of despair, justice instead of poverty and oppression, etc…) if we all would recommitt ourselves to being simple witnesses of the good news and passionate about that alone. This is where I believe Christians can unite on if we could leave the politics in the trash-can and say once again “our business is the gospel of Jesus CHrist.”

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

    P.S. I hope my comment has come across in a civil tone, for that is how I intend it to be heard. I am trying to speak candidly as I discuss this issue with my fellow Christians but I want to do so with a civil dialogue rooted in the mercy God has graciously shown me.

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