Justice is Holy – April Synchroblog
April 16th, 2008 by Sonja

I could write a lot on this. But my observation is that there are two main branches of Christian action. There is the personal holiness branch, which is characterized by the legalistic how to remain pure and upright before the Lord activities, and there is the social justice branch, which is characterized by how to do good works. The twain do not meet. Nor do they look one another in the eye. One tends to be quite conservative, the other quite liberal. They also call each other nasty names in private, when no one is listening. Or so they think.

There is a problem though. Both parts are necessary for a holistic walk with Jesus. I don’t think it is possible to be personally holy without concern for social justice. Nor can one have concern for social justice without personal holiness. I think it was best said by David Thewlis in the movie, “Kingdom of Heaven,” in conversation with Orlando Bloom:

Hospitaller: I put no stock in religion. By the word religion I have seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination be called the will of god. I have seen too much religion in the eyes of too many murderers. Holiness is in right action, and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves, and goodness. What god desires is here
[points to head]
Hospitaller: and here
[points to heart]
Hospitaller: and what you decide to do every day, you will be a good man – or not.

Holiness is in right action and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves …

Who are those who cannot defend themselves? Why … interestingly, they are those who benefit from social justice ministries; women, children, single moms, impoverished, immigrants … the lowly and down-trodden. It is giving a cup of water to the least in society for no other reason than that it is the right thing to do. And, by the way … it is a holy act.

This post is part of a synchroblog … Here is the list of socially concerned, and maybe even active individuals who are going to be blogging together on this subject Wednesday, April 16th:

Phil Wyman at Square No More – Salem: No Place for Hating Witches
Mike Bursell at Mike’s Musings
Bryan Riley at at Charis Shalom
Steve Hayes writes about Khanya: Christianity and social justice
Reba Baskett at In Reba’s World
Prof Carlos Z. with Ramblings from a Sociologist
Cobus van Wyngaard at My Contemplations: David Bosch, Public Theology, Social Justic
Cindy Harvey at Tracking the Edge
Alan Knox at The Assembling of the Church
Matthew Stone at Matt Stone Journeys in Between
John Smulo at JohnSmulo.com
Sonja Andrews at Calacirian
Lainie Petersen at Headspace
KW Leslie: Shine: not let it shine
Stephanie Moulton at Faith and the Environment Collide
Julie Clawson at One Hand Clapping
Steve Hollinghurst at On Earth as in Heaven
Sam Norton at Elizaphanian: Tesco is a Big Red Herring

6 Responses  
  • Adam G. writes:
    April 16th, 200811:19 pmat

    The two rarely meet, you are right. And yet, it shouldn’t really be “either, or.” There’s that old saying that goes “Jesus is either Lord of all, or he isn’t Lord at all.” Most often this is applied to personal holiness, but if applied to the nations over which he is Lord, it takes on new life and meaning.

  • K.W. Leslie writes:
    April 16th, 200811:22 pmat

    When I say religion, I refer to commands and rituals; essentially doing what God has told me (and the Church) to do because He is the Lord, and we love Him enough to trust that He knows what the commands and rituals mean, so we do ’em.

    Sadly, a lot of people think our religious obligations towards Him include forcing others to perform their religious obligations. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job, not ours. But this warped definition of religion has become the de facto definition, and so now we get Protestants cheering the death of “religion” in our lives. And — like the iconoclasts, who were so afraid of idolatry that they got rid of some perfectly good art — in our fervor to remove the false religion, we frequently get rid of the true religion.

    True religion includes social action ’cause Jesus told us to care for the poor. So I don’t agree with the Hospitaller very much. Either he doesn’t understand religion aright, or the screenwriter doesn’t. (My guess is it’s the screenwriter.)

  • Bryan Riley writes:
    April 17th, 20081:10 amat

    Keep calling for repentance in this area. When the Church wakes up and rises up it will be beautiful to behold. God made His covenant with Abraham and is still giving it out tocay – we are blessed by God to bless all the nations to His glory.

  • CHARIS SHALOM » Synchroblog - Social Activism and Christian Mission writes:
    April 17th, 20082:07 amat

    […] Church Matthew Stone at Matt Stone Journeys in Between John Smulo at JohnSmulo.com Sonja Andrews at Calacirian Lainie Petersen at Headspace KW Leslie: Shine: not let it shine Stephanie Moulton at Faith and the […]

  • Sonja writes:
    April 17th, 20087:48 amat

    @ Adam – Yes … but I think the churches need to come to this idea first. We’ve lost the idea that it is the C(c)hurch (the Body of Christ) who must care for those who have need. It is the responsibility of the whole Body, not just a few ministries here and there. It’s all of us.

    @ Kent – Well … I think I do agree with Hosptialler and yet (if possible) I also agree with you. If you read him closely, he’s tracking with a popular definition of religion. By that definition, a lot of fanaticism has done a lot of evil in the world throughout history and continues to do so today. However, as you say, true religion is caring for the poor (or as Hospitaller would say defending those who cannot care for themselves). So perhaps he did know what the truth was, underneath it all …

    @Bryan – What was that movie? Pay It Forward I think … It’s like that … when we are blessed, I wonder why it does not flow out of our hearts to share that with others. To pay it forward. What if everyone did that?

  • Steve Hayes writes:
    April 20th, 200810:46 amat

    Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit widows and orphans in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world (James 1:27).

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