Acts of Justice
By Steve Manskar
2016 is a general election and General Conference year. Acts of justice are very much on my mind. Jesus Christ calls his followers to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:25-37) and to be ambassadors of reconciliation and justice (2 Cor. 5:16-20). Followers of Jesus are people who witness to and work for forgiveness, reconciliation, and the common good. Justice means that all people have access to life and the means to fully participate in community life. It is at the center of what Jesus means when he proclaimed the "kingdom of God" (e.g., Mark 1:15).
What does this mean for Jesus' followers today?
A disciple’s primary loyalty is to Jesus and the kingdom of God. It means we must not be captured by any political party or ideology. Jesus’ disciples are guided more by the sermon on the Mount and the kingdom of God than by the platforms and candidates of the Republican, Democrat, or any political party. Christians are called and baptized into Christ and citizenship in God's kingdom.
The second vow of the Baptismal Covenant helps us understand the nature of acts of justice as being central to discipleship:
Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?
It’s important for us to remember God sets us free from the power sin and for a life of self-giving love. God gives us freedom to live fully as citizens of his kingdom. We are set free to become fully human, like Jesus, as sisters and brothers in God's household. Christ sends us into the world to be agents of his power, which is self-giving love. This love is lived and experienced as justice. God's love equips us to resist the powers and principalities that are revealed as evil, injustice, and oppression.
One practical act of justice is to be an informed voter. God sends us to participate as responsible citizens in the world he loves. Followers of Jesus evaluate candidates to see how well their positions align with justice-love exemplified in Jesus and the reign of God.
As we prepare to decide who will get our vote we ask the following questions:
- Will the candidates’ administration be good news to the poor, voiceless, and vulnerable people of the nation and the world?
- Do the candidates’ policy proposals care for creation?
- Will the candidate assure the nation is a responsible agent of reconciliation, peace and justice in the world?
Because we live in the world, Christians need to be regularly reminded their primary allegiance is to Christ and his kingdom. The Baptismal Covenant and Covenant Discipleship groups help to keep us centered in Christ and his mission.
What are you and your Covenant Discipleship group doing to “accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves”?