The 2021 Millenial and Gen Z survey by Deloitte Global revealed that those belonging to these two generations have a strong conviction with regards to social issues that currently plague the world such as climate change, unemployment, healthcare crisis, and education crisis.
In fact, a similar study by Barna project and World Vision confirms these findings.
We’ve seen how the youth have been actively participating in matters of social justice and working to make the world a better place. We’ve seen them start movements that have become a driving force for change to actually happen.
However, there are those who say that trying to solve social ills can become a distraction from proclaiming the gospel to the world and that the focus on the Great Commission may be lost.
Some say, on the other hand, that there’s too much gospel proclamation and not enough fighting for justice, or vice versa. But are these opposing ideas or can they work hand-in-hand?
The truth is that, biblically, one cannot be fully realized without the other. What does this mean?
The Gospel: The Foundation of True Justice
In order to truly pursue justice, it is important for us to understand that it all begins with an internal transformation of the heart that addresses the root of sin and brokenness.
Apart from realizing the selfishness of our hearts and experiencing forgiveness, grace, and unconditional love through the gospel, we may find ourselves simply doing good works out of a sense of obligation or as a way of promoting one’s own reputation.
Apart from a renewed perspective about the resurrection, we may simply be concerned about our personal relationship with God and proclaiming the Gospel to “get people to heaven.” We may become more concerned about the afterlife without giving thought to helping provide a better life for those who are suffering from injustice and oppression in the present.
Deepening one’s own understanding of the gospel allows us to live out Ephesians 2:10,
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Justice: An Expression of the Gospel
Pursuing justice, therefore, is an expression of the gospel. It addresses external systems that perpetuate sin and brokenness. We’re talking about going back to Genesis 1:26-28, where God declared human beings as created in His image in order to protect and promote life on earth. Because we are all created in His image, each of us has inherent value and dignity that others are supposed to honor and uplift.
Injustice, therefore, is when the dignity and value of an individual or a group of people are violated or ignored for someone else’s gain. This is why poverty, lack of basic healthcare, lack of employment, and all the other social and economic ills, are all a form of injustice. At the end of the day, when we talk about pursuing justice, we’re not just talking about acts of charity or advocacies. Those are great and necessary. But we need to go deeper into the day-to-day decisions of those who are in authority.
What does this look like?
If you are a business owner, you won’t just be concerned about the profit, but about the greater social good—that is, the environmental impact, sustainability of the business, and fair negotiations with suppliers and customers.
If you are an employer, you’ll prioritize the well-being of your employees by giving the appropriate compensation and benefits package as well as investing in their growth and development.
If you are a legislator, you’ll push for holistic solutions to crime, economic crisis, poverty, and public health because each person is valuable and has a right to a better life.
If you are a Filipino citizen, you’ll be voting, not just for personal gain or benefit, but with the poor and the needy in mind, as well as the future generations. You’ll be a law-abiding taxpayer for the benefit of the community, including your own family.
If you are a student leader with an advocacy, you’ll pursue excellence and godly leadership, not for individual achievement but for the good and the growth of the community.
If you are a parent, you’ll make sure that your child is seen and heard, because you understand that intentional connection and mutual respect underscores that they are valuable human beings.
These are just a few examples of what the prophet Micah says,
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
Jesus alluded to what the prophet describes when he spoke about those who inherit the kingdom of God,
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” (Matthew 25:35-26)
These passages emphasize the truth that if there is a group of people that should be in the frontline advocating for the rights, dignity, and value of every human life, it should be the church—the recipients of the goodness of the gospel. In the process of fighting against oppression and unjust systems, we act as witnesses of the gospel and proclaim it when the opportunity comes.