I was very moved recently by an email prayer letter from a young Australian doctor and his wife in South Sudan. They had recently traveled into their local town and noticed a child motionless in a puddle on the street. They later found he’d been lying there for two days.
They picked him up, nurtured and fed him and have taken over as his guardians. (They are already caring for two other youngsters in this way.) The little boy had been abandoned for some time because he cannot walk or talk and is completely incontinent.
His name is Emmanuel, which means, “God with us” (Matthew chapter 1 verse 21, chapter 28 verse 20). In an age of intensifying social discontent, the people of God must recognise this name is much more than pious thinking. Jesus has come to live with Dr Daniel and Monica in a very real way.
In an age of Me Too, transgender rights, the Black Lives Matters movement etc. the issue of social righteousness is not going away. To dismiss all this as merely “cultural Marxism” is a superficial response. The term, “social justice warrior” (SJW) may be intended as a smear, but it carries within it something profound.
When “God created man upright” (Ecclesiastes chapter 7 verse 29), humanity’s original sense of good and evil was meant to serve the command to, “fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion” (Genesis chapter 1 verse 28).
Like it or not, the fact that from eternity the Father knew that Jesus must die (Revelation chapter 13 verse 8), means that human beings in the divine image are spiritually and morally constituted to “love righteousness and hated wickedness” (Hebrews chapter 1 verses 8-9). Put simply, to be like Jesus is to be a warrior.
The God who Fights
From the time of his struggles with Satan in the wilderness, through his casting out of evil spirits and escaping hostile crowds, to the climax of the cross, Jesus is the perfect image of the God who fights for justice. “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in the cross.” (Colossians chapter 2 verse 15).
There was nothing abstract or intellectualist about the life of Jesus; his knowledge of the Bible and abundant prayer life were essential combat tools in serving the Father and his voice of the command bore a King’s authority. In a passage on domestic conflict Christ pronounced, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew chapter 10 verse 34). Generally speaking, the conscience of Western Christians is terribly uncomfortable with this sort of talk.
Few Evangelicals know how to deal with the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew chapter 25 verses 31-46), where Jesus says he has been cared for when the poor and needy are provided for. The only difference in this story between those who go to eternal life and those who depart to eternal punishment is what they did or did not DO! Throughout scripture a righteous status is shown through just deeds (James chapter 2 verse 18).
As John Calvin said, “the faith which justifies is not alone”. The majority of Bible-believing Christians have disturbed consciousness about their failure to do good deeds which evidence the presence of Christ in their lives. Jesus commanded us, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew chapter 5 verse 16). When was the last time that a non-believer inquired of you about the source of your just deeds? So that you could then point them to Jesus.
We live in an age of much prayer for revival, but unlike many past moves of God, as in the time of the John Wesley, William Booth and early Pentecostalism, this is often coupled with suspicion and fear of social righteousness. Perhaps this is one reason why we are not seeing Jesus in our midst?
The word of the Lord is forever true, “share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, Then…your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard” (Isaiah chapter 58 verses7-8.) Time to ask the Lord Jesus what he would have you DO.
The Rev. Dr John Yates is an Anglican minister in Perth and has 5 children and 7 grandchildren. He spends time in praying, mentoring and writing.John Yates’s previous articles may be viewed athttp://www.pressserviceinternational.org/john-yates.html