Witness to Jesus Christ in the World through Acts of Justice
By Steve Manskar
How is your group doing with acts of justice? If you are in a typical Covenant Discipleship group, I suspect you find justice to be the most difficult part of the covenant to keep. This is why groups frequently place the acts of justice at the bottom of their covenant. I think this done because we like to put off things that are difficult to understand and to do. Is this true for your group?
In Scripture justice is rooted in the person of God who is always on the side of the poor, the hungry, the widow, the orphan, the oppressed, the troubled, and the afflicted. God loves justice because his desire is for the rights of all people to have all they need to live and to participate fully in the life of the community. When these rights are denied or violated, God’s judgment falls upon the persons and systems responsible. And God’s prophets call upon the covenant community to rise up to restore justice, to be the advocate for the poor and vulnerable who suffer as a result of unjust systems and laws.
Jesus is the incarnation of God and his love. Jesus reveals God’s option for the poor. He was born to Mary of Nazareth, betrothed to a poor carpenter in a remote town in a Galilee. Jesus lived and traveled among the poor, the sick, and the outcasts. As Galilean Jew he was one of and one with the oppressed living under occupation by the Roman Empire.
Jesus is the incarnation of God’s justice-love. Justice is the always the fruit of love. This justice-love is described by Jesus when he read his mission statement from the book of the prophet Isaiah in his home-town synagogue (Luke 4:18-19):
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’
Jesus calls his disciples and the church that bears his name to be a people who are with him in the homes of the poor, vulnerable, and oppressed people of the world.
Acts of justice are the actions Christians take with others to address the causes of injustice and suffering anywhere in the world. Acts of justice are the public dimension of the works of mercy. They are related to acts of compassion that relieve the suffering of individuals. Acts of justice address the systems, laws, and other causes that require us to engage in acts of compassion.
The internet and social media are great resources for participation in acts of justice. Here are a few organizations that help me to be aware of needs and prompt me to practice acts of justice:
- ONE (http://www.one.org) is an international organization fighting global poverty and AIDS
- CREDO Action (http://www.credoaction.com) is a network of activist organizations supported by Working Assets (http://www.workingassets.com).
- Sojourners (http://sojo.net) is an evangelical social justice organization founded by Rev. Jim Wallis. They provide opportunities to address poverty, war & peace, and economic justice.
- General Board of Church and Society (http://umc-gbcs.org/) is the lobbying agency of The United Methodist Church. Their headquarters are in the Methodist Building, the only non-government owned building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
These are the resources I use to help me practice acts of justice. I invite you to learn more about them, sign up to get their action alerts and get involved.
“Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24).
It’s Time to Register for the next Wesley Pilgrimage in England
April 15-25, 2013
Time is running out to be part of the next Wesley Pilgrimage in England that will gather at Sarum College in Salisbury, England on April 15, 2013. Leaders for the 2013 pilgrimage will be Dr. Paul W. Chilcote and Dr. Steve Manskar.
The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry is once again partnering with GBOD by providing $800 scholarships for the first 15 commissioned provisional elders and deacons who register for the pilgrimage. A few scholarship remain. Claim yours today! Don’t miss out on this great continuing education opportunity.
For details and registration go to: http://www.gbod.org/wesleypilgrimage.
If you have questions, please contact Steve Manskar at [email protected] or call him toll free at 877-899-2780, ext. 1765.