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Social Justice & The Church by Travis Sinks

Social justice has been, and always will be, a part of Christian living and one of the many ways the church loves and serves its surrounding community.

However, social justice was not the message of Jesus, and is not the primary purpose of His Church.

As we seek out Jesus’ purposes for His church, it’s always good to go back to scripture and see what He had to say about it.

As one of His final words to the disciples, Jesus said,

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

We see that the primary purpose of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus, to see people believe in Jesus (baptizing them as an outward sign of their inward belief), and teaching those disciples to follow Jesus in all of His teaching.

So what was Jesus’ teaching all about?

The primary message of Jesus is that we are dead in our sins, and we need to be born again by His sacrifice, grace, and forgiveness. (John 3: 1-21)

Everything else Jesus teaches hinges on us accepting His sacrifice for our sins. He taught us how to pray, give, serve, seek the Father, love others, and generally live the life we were meant to live - but this is only possible through accepting His Gospel.

One of the many things Jesus taught was social justice. However, there isn't much specific teaching on equality, and social justice - but He clearly lived a life of caring about these things. He never taught to organize social justice movements within His church, or to seek lobbying of any kind - but rather that a transformed life would engage in social justice daily. This is because social justice (as well as any person-to-person interaction) cannot simply be legislated, but must come from a transformed life and heart-change.

Social justice is a byproduct of salvation.

Truly effective social justice cannot come from simply changing laws, but only from changing hearts. This is why we never see Jesus pushing for new laws or government because He is most concerned with the salvation of people.

This is why Jesus emphasizes people’s salvation more than anything else. An amazing example that is covered by three of the four Gospels is when He first forgives the sins of a paralytic man and tells the scribes the the primary reason He will then heal the man is so that they will know that He has the power to forgive sins (Matthew 9:1-8, Mark 2:1-12, Luke 5:18-25).

Jesus clearly had a primary emphasis on salvation through forgiveness of sins above anything else.

And when the church shifts to focus on coordinated social justice, we miss Jesus’ primary mission: to see people saved from death and brought into new life.

I really like how Bruce Zachary explains it:

“Activism emphasizes the social gospel & tends to produce cause-oriented rather than Christ-centered people. Attempts to effect social change without a change of heart/nature. Caring for the poor, for example, is very important, but it should not be divorced from Jesus & man’s greatest need –salvation.” -Bruce Zachary

Jesus mission for His church is that we would be gospel oriented people which would result in the people of His church bringing social justice and love to those around them.

Salvation will always bring social change (along with the all the other things that come with a transformed life) - yet social change alone cannot bring salvation.

As a church in Delray Beach, we have seen many people loved, served, helped, and brought into life-bringing community. However, it all flows from our mission to “pursue and proclaim Jesus” as He intended for us to do.

We may not have a “social cause” that we emphasize or all gather around, but that is because we are called to gather around Jesus. And as we have, and continue to, He promises that we will continue to see lives changed, families restored, and equality and hope brought to all people through receiving His Gospel and surrendering to His grace.

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A Surprising Family by Alesha Sinks

I remember having some friends growing up who always felt more like family. You couldn’t enter their home without being drawn in and made to feel like you were a part of them, a part of their family.

And I think that is how the church is supposed to be.

When we come together as the body of Christ, when we come open and willing to see what God will do, when we come accepting and praying and seeking instead of judging and comparing, there is a special thing that happens. We become family.
We become the body of Christ.

When we commit to following Jesus and commit to being a part of His church, to walking out the days of our lives with the members of His church that He has called us to be with, we will see ourselves knit together in love. One of the most profoundly supernatural things I have witnessed is a group of very different people who are knit together in love through Jesus.

"For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ….For the body does not consist of one member but of many.”
1 Corinthians 12:12;14

We are the body of Christ. The church, knit together by love, is the body of Christ. We are the body of Christ.

"Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”
1 Corinthians 12:27

This is the great mystery of the church. God builds His church and bonds it together with a love that is surprising and cannot be explained any other way than through Him. Sometimes I look around at my church family, and find myself in awe. Who could ever script this combination of lives lived together and call it beautiful? And I know that the answer is, “Only Jesus. And He has made it is beautiful."

Without Jesus, we can form groups and societies and programs that are unique and interesting, but we will never become the family of love that Jesus can make us. He can take people with almost nothing in common but Him and bind them together with love so strong that it is astounding. He can take our unique gifts and personalities and talents and perspectives and knit them together into a body that can function and serve each other and the world for His glory.

Only Jesus can take people so different, so varied, so incompatible and make them a family that is characterized first and foremost by love.

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:34-35

I look around our little church some Sundays to see so many faces I feircly love, and yet if I step back just half an inch from my own inside perspective it looks so strange. Nothing about my background or personality or birthplace on the planet points to these people being the ones I call family. But as I’ve showed up week after week, year after year, pouring my heart and time into these people, Jesus has knit my heart so tightly to their’s in love. His love.

He builds His church through a million impossible combinations and binds us together through the bond of love. It is His gift to His church if we allow Him to work it in us.

If we allow Him to knit us together, He will. He will take the most diverse combinations of people and bind our hearts together, creating us into His church. Creating us into an imperfect bride through which He can display His love for the world.

He takes our unique backgrounds and beliefs and talents and gifts and turns them into a body, functioning as one, for one purpose. That purpose is His glory and praise.

Because of that purpose, this beautiful family is intended to constantly welcome and grow, to pull in and envelop anyone who will come close, just like that family I knew as a child. We the church are intended to become a tight knit family who will embrace as family every new member whom God brings.

But for every joy of love and bond of family, there will be equal pain and hurt and sorrow. But it will be worth it. It will be worth it in the moments you get to raise your eyes and see your family, all broken and mismatched and messy, worshiping together and loving each other in a way that can only be explained by pointing to Jesus.

God builds His church and bonds it together with a love that is surprising and cannot be explained any other way than through Him.

We are the Church of Jesus.
We are family.
We are the body of Christ.
We are the bride in preparation for her Groom.
We are gifted love and unity by Him; let’s seek Him and press into the family He has given us.

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