Social justice is a messy business. Should we as the church stick our necks out and wade into that mess? Should we be involved in social justice?
The answer seems more confusing than it is because we associate social justice with what secular society has made it. But the problem with secularist social justice is that it attempts to treat the symptoms without address the root problem—sin. Sin is the root of all injustice in this world—racism, hatred, sex trafficking, abortion, slavery.
So the answer is a clear and resounding yes. Not only should we as the church be involved, but it is our responsibility to be involved! We have to step up and lead the way in social justice because we know what the solution to the root problem is. True social justice is the result of salvation and can only be founded in Jesus. We must be agents of reconciliation, leading a broken, violent world to the true God who gave us Jesus.
God used the founders of the early church to do just that. Acts 10 tells the story of a meeting between a Roman centurion named Cornelius and Peter, the disciple Jesus said He’d build His church on, a Jew. The Jews and the Romans tried to have as little to do with one another as possible because of racial and religious differences. Yet both men were told by God during their times of prayer to meet with one another, and God opened Peter’s eyes to the truth that God isn’t interested in the racial distinctions we give one another. God used a time of prayer to radically change the way people of two different races interacted with one another.
Prayer changes our perspective on the unclean of our day. It’s so important that we allow God to change the things inside of us that are roadblocks to us coming together. God wants to change our hearts—we only need to let Him. We must lay down our own worldviews and perspectives in our time of talking to God and allow Him to give us His own. God told Peter, “Do not call something unclean that I have made clean” (vs. 15). Every one of us, whether black, Hispanic, Asian or white, was unclean because of sin, but Jesus died to make us clean. His gift of salvation has no racial, cultural or gender requirements—the cleanness He offers is unconditional.
Prayer opens us up to see the world as God sees it. It doesn’t matter how we see the world—if we are Christ followers, if we believe our purpose here is to become more like Christ, we need to pray that God opens us up to see the world through the lens of his perspective. We are all created in the image of God, even the people who have done unspeakable things, even the people who have hurt us. That makes us immeasurably valuable. God sees that value when He looks at us. We must desire to see the same thing He sees in the people around us.
Prayer and justice are inextricably linked because it is only through prayer that God opens our eyes to see things His way, to see others as His priceless creations, clean because of the price Jesus paid to make us so.