Sunday, July 13, 2008

Motivation for Justice

There's one more strange line of reasoning to which I need to respond regarding the issue of Christians and justice...

There are those who jump to the conclusion--when they hear of a church like Antioch being involved in human rights issues--that the motivation for such activity is an effort to earn our own salvation. This, of course, is a non-sequitur: the conclusion doesn't follow from the premise. As an argument, it would look like this...
Premise: Christians are showing compassion to the poor and outcast.

Conclusion: These particular Christians must be trying to earn their way to Heaven; they must not understand the grace of God in Christ.
I know, it seems pretty silly when I write it out in its logical form. Nonetheless, this is the sort of thinking engaged in by those Christians skeptical of their brothers and sisters who are active in the area of human rights and social justice.

Obviously, there's an alternative, a quite different motivation for loving others and extending to them grace, mercy, and justice. And that is that we understand Christ's grace and mercy and desire for justice. As His close friend and follower the apostle John had it,
We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
The apostle Paul spelled it out pretty clearly...
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God... For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
In short, God has in Christ adopted us as sons and daughters. Further, He has called us (throughout Scripture) to love and show compassion to others. We therefore do those things in order to obey and to please Him. It's as simple as that.

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