Summary: This sermon was preached at the time of celebrating the passing of 200 years since the abolition of human slavery and asks the question should Christians be involved in social Justice?
What does God require of us? Micah 6:8
• Two hundred years ago, on 25th March 1807, the British parliament voted in favour of a law that would have consequences all around the known world. This new law was the abolition of human slavery. This act of 1807 was one of the most humanitarian pieces of legislation ever enacted in a British parliament.
• But who brought it about? Well what’s important to note that it was proposed and supported and by a very small number of determined Christian’s? One prominent amongst this group was William Wilberforce (1759-1833) who entered politics at the age of twenty, But in 1785 at the age of 25 Wilberforce was converted to a personal faith in Jesus Christ.
• As a result he would later write on the 20th Oct 1789, ‘God Almighty has set before me two great objects the suppression of the slaved trade and the reformation of Manners" (morals).
Here we see a Christian engaging in social Justice.
The question I put to us all today as Christians shouldn’t we be engaged in our own communities where family breakdown and social disorder is so prevalent, in our nation where human morality is disintegrating and in our world where poverty - slavery and social injustices are still so prevalent – shouldn’t we be actively involved as evangelical Christians in a variety of forms of social justice?
The problem of evangelical Christianity as I see it, is the privatisation of our faith mentality - Yet doesn’t the Bible say Jhn 3:16 For God so loved the world? Shouldn’t our faith should cause us to engage the world as God did?
• Look at our Christian heritage with people like : Lord Shaftsbury who helped the poor stopped women and children working in mines – children being chimney sweeps - the abuse of children –orphanages - RSPCA - Benjamin Waugh - NSPCC - William Wilberforce - Slavery schools – visited prisons – vaccinations for the poor – animal welfare - Elisabeth Fry - improved prison conditions for women and children- George Muller - orphanages.
All these people were Christians involved in social justice as a consequence of their faith. Real faith will lead to fulfilling God’s requirements for our lives - and it will often involve social action/justice in some shape or form.Our faith is not inert but a living faith and will be demonstrated through our actions (Jam 2:14-17) active in the world where we are placed as Paul says in Romans 12: 1-2 we are called not to be conformed to the world but to be a transformed by the reneawing of our minds ( by the Spirit and Word)so that we will be able to test and approve Gods purposes and will for our lives – he is inferring that we will influence the world around us by this transformation.
I hope you will take this as objective critisim. So often the only thing that we as evangelical Christians are concerned about in our Churches is entertaining people and getting them saved - but what about actually caring for the poor in our communities – letting them see the gospel in action - What about speaking up against the decline of morality in our nation to our political leaders - What about the need for making a stand against injustices still prevalent today. Did you know that there are still 27 million people still in different forms of slavery today.
Where has that once held evangelical faith and social action gone? Our dilemma as Evangelical Christians is we see the liberals dive into the social action, which is to be commended, but it’s void of real faith as a result it has no lasting influence - but when people of faith arise infused with social action you are going to make a real impact with the gospel, people will be transformed by the power of the gospel.
My scripture refrence for todays message is Micah 6:8.
Lets look at the setting: Remember its the 2nd half of the 8th century Micah 724 BC - 687 BC: Since the break up of the single nation, after the death of Solomon 922 BC. Israel and Judah had witnessed the most affluent periods in the Kingdoms history both capitals Samaria in the North and Jerusalem in the South enjoyed immense prosperity during this period .
Background: They were inheritors of a unique socio- economic life . The promised land had been allotted to the 12 tribes by God Num 33:50-56 – Lev 25:23 in trust (stewards) – with specific instructions on jubilee lev 25: 1-55 for all land to return to original owner 50th year - those who owned land were called to take care and make special provision Deut 14: 28 -29 15:7-11 - for the helpless – poor- widow –orphan - slave - alien.