Int’l (MNN) – Social justice is a term that gets thrown around a lot but is tricky to nail down. However, Danielle Strickland, a long-time social justice advocate and an ambassador with Compassion International, believes social justice is at the heart of the kingdom of God.
From issues at the center of political debates to the forgotten poor, people are living in unjust situations every day. Strickland acknowledges the brokenness of creation due to sin, but also believes it is God’s heart to see systemic injustice rectified through true peace. She explains that packed into the idea of peace is a fullness that only God can bring to Earth.
Social Justice in Three Forms
This peace and fullness will encompass justice in every sphere of life. Strickland notes three areas of justice that together demonstrate true peace.
- Egalitarian justice is about equal rights for all human beings. It is the type of justice that demonstrates the equal sacredness of every person because they were created by a God of infinite worth.
- Distributive justice encompasses the idea that all people should have enough to live a healthy life. This is where food distribution and generous giving by God’s people come into play.
- Legislative justice provides protection for vulnerable people. It involves hearing the plight of the oppressed and helping to keep them safe from oppression.
Strickland says, “So I think if you add those three justices together, egalitarian, distributive, and legislative justice, you have this kind of picture of what it means to have social justice or right relationships between people that live on the earth. So, trying to create that in every community, in every relationship, in every neighborhood, in every nation – that’s the work of God. It’s what kind of the kingdom of God looks like when it comes.”
Removing the Complexities
The idea of bringing God’s justice in each of these areas of life is big. Yet, often it seems overwhelming. However, Strickland sees social justice differently.
“I think we also make things complex when we don’t want to do them. I don’t think actually justice isn’t complex at all. I think it’s actually really simple. We just don’t want to do it. So we make it really hard and we make it above our pay grade. So we don’t have to do it. But really sharing isn’t that complex. Kids get it pretty quickly and do it pretty quickly.”
Be Prepared to Act
God calls His people to act, rather than dismissing the nudge to do something. A small action here or there is still a step toward social justice.
“Whatever it is that begins to prompt you. It’s part of God’s calling of His people. A sort of agreeing with all of creation that this isn’t right and it needs to be made right.”
Strickland challenges Christians to be willing to go through small disturbances in their daily routines and their thought patterns in order to truly seek God’s justice. She points out that often people view any sort of disturbance in life as bad. However, peace is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of right relationships between mankind and other creation and mankind and their Creator.
Looking for Opportunities
There are many ways to open the door for more social justice every day. Strickland says that a good place to start is to listen, learn and live. Listen to voices that you don’t normally hear.
“Who is not represented there? Who are the people you think you know about, but you don’t know any of them? Find those people and be intentional about asking them questions.”
Once you have heard the issue, learn about ways other people are tackling it.
Then live differently. It’s not enough to just know about an issue, but Christians should live in a way that demonstrates a commitment to bringing Christ’s kingdom on Earth.
Join Compassion International
One way that Strickland encourages people to get involved with social justice is through organizations like Compassion International.
Most people are familiar with the one to one child sponsorship program that Compassion offers around the world. However, what sponsors may not see is that their work thrives through the local church.
Compassion also offer a program to empower local kids with the tools that help them erase poverty from their families. This not only provides hope for kids, but gives them an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty in their lives.
Take a practical step toward social justice today. Learn more about Compassion International and how you can support their work here.