As we prepare to plant Center Point Community Church an aspect we wrestle with is our understanding of biblical justice. In particular, we ask, “How socially minded should we be? Should justice be a priority in our planting efforts? How do you balance evangelism and justice action? Or are they one in the same?”

In his book, Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just, Tim Keller argues that as Christians we aren’t simply called to bring about justice in the world around us, but we should be propelled by the reception of God’s grace to be intimately involved in bringing God’s intended Shalom to every aspect of His world. The book provides a powerfully, biblically based argument for Christians living justly in an unjust world. Keller posits that fundamentally we are called to empower and equip the poor regardless of the possible outcome. We should not worry about their track-record, whether or not they will use the aid we provide for the right reasons. For Jesus forgives and provides for us sinners time and time again, especially when we fail to use his aid appropriately. If we’re really called to imitate Christ, if we’re really called to become more like him shouldn’t we do the same?

Keller also considers some of the sources of injustice in society. He acknowledges the fact that most injustice and poverty is a problem that goes deeper that either the simplicity of a personal inability or a systemic problem. In fact in most cases the poor are poor due to a complex combination of individual choice, environmental state, and systemic powers of oppression. As Christians we are called to impact all three areas as we work to restore the poor to an equitable level.

But, what then is the role of the church? Are we to be a social service agency? Is that our corporate call to justice? Keller answers this question by pointing to Abraham Kuyper’s concept of sphere sovereignty. Kuyper, a turn of the 20th century theologian and one time Prime Minister of the Netherlands, believed that the individual, the church, and the government each had differing responsibilities within society. In regards to our conversation on justice, Keller argues along with Kupyer that the church as an institution has the primary task of expanding God’s Kingdom through the preaching of the gospel. That being said as individuals we are called to be active in the restoration of justice. So in essence the church must continue it’s focus on proclaiming the good news, while equipping it’s people to bring God’s Shalom (for definition see note at bottom) to a hurting and unjust world.

If you are looking for a challenging conversation on biblical justice, I strongly recommend you read Generous Justice. Keller doesn’t settle for a simple trite answer, but digs deep as to the what, why, and how of justice within the christian life. Check it out, give it a read, and let me know what you think.

Peace,

Nate

Note: Shalom is a Hebrew term used throughout the Old Testament to signify a holy peace. It isn’t simply a peace without conflict, but it runs deeper as it is a restorative peace that brings healing and health working towards reclaiming things as they should be. It has implications for poverty, abuse, neglect, power, and injustice. It’s a deep word with a holy goal.

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