Isaiah 61:1-2 – The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoner, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn.

Recently someone commented to me that they wondered why Christians couldn't be involved in building a sense of community and solidarity, to be participating in social justice events.

I was, frankly, surprised. And yet, as I thought about their question, I was aware that Christians in this part of the world are known for our attempt to proclaim the gospel (literally, "the good news") through evangelism, helping each other, and in worship services. Certainly Christians are concerned about "salvation." But little is known about what Christians are doing in order to bring about a more just and peaceful world. It is one thing to sing Christmas songs that are filled with joy and love and peace. But what are we doing about these fine themes?

So I was about to jump into some of the examples of this kind of action that give me hope: The work of the Salvation Army and other denominations with the poor; the church in South Africa (without which apartheid would still be practised in that country); Liberation Theology in Latin America; the "Pastors for Peace" caravan to Cuba; well-known individuals such as Martin Luther King and Princess Di, environmentalists of every denomination (including lots of evangelical churches), the role of Quakers (Society of Friends) and Mennonites in peace-making, mediation, conflict resolution, etc. And this is a very partial list!

But when I was talking to my friend, I didn't zip off this list, or any other. I didn't want to sound zealous and "fanatical."

Upon later reflection, I realized that, like me, many of the movements and individuals may not be very bold about their religious and spiritual underpinnings, given our pluralistic society and our disdain for arrogance of whatever kind. I also realized that social justice issues aren't presently "in" these days.

So we don't see/read/hear much from those who combine their faith and spirituality with social justice issues.

Prayer: Lord, help us to be well-rounded followers of yours, sharing our faith with people and also being concerned about their physical needs. Amen.

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About the author:

Ian Gartshore
Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada

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