Summary: Jesus as a social revolutionary.
The Social Justice Stream: How Broad Is The Kingdom Of God
February 19, 2006
How broad is the Kingdom of God? Over the past 6 weeks, we have looked at the Evangelical stream, which calls us to know God through His Word. We have looked at the Charismatic stream, which calls us to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. We have looked at the Contemplative stream, which calls us to live in prayer. And we have looked at the Holiness stream, which calls us to live obedient and virtuous lives.
This morning we look at the Social Justice stream, also known as the Compassionate life. And as the Holiness stream calls us to look inwardly, into the depths of our own souls so that we might see the sin that is there and deal with it, the Social Justice stream calls us to look outwardly, into the places in our world where sin exists and deal with it.
A Few Brief Stories:
People have always found ways to be exceedingly cruel to other people. The very first family saw jealously and hatred lead quickly to murder, the story of Cain and Abel. Most of human history is told in terms of conflict, of war, of any one group of people using whatever power they have to exploit another group of people. Of course each story is unique in terms of the people involved and the specifics of the conflict, but underneath it all is the same ugly traits of unredeemed humanity – greed, power, lust, insecurity, and selfishness.
Alongside those ugly traits are another whole set of stories, and many of them come from people who have experienced the forgiveness of God which sets them free from slavery to those ugly traits and then compels them to action on behalf of other people. William Wilberforce, the evangelical in 19th century England who worked tirelessly to end the evil of slavery. Emily Murphy, the Edmontonian woman who in 1929 – only one generation ago – finally was successful in having the government recognize that women are “persons” in the eyes of the law – she was an Anglican minister’s wife. Within our generation, Martin Luther King Jr. and the US Civil Rights Movement acted out of their convictions from Scripture and their experience of God’s grace and power to work for equality and justice regardless of race. Likewise, Mother Theresa of Calcutta, Albert Schweitzer, Jean Vanier, all people of faith who took brave stands against the evils of injustice. All well known people who made a substantial difference in our world because of their Christian faith. And those stories are not just limited to the “famous” people – our own Randy Loewen spends his life counseling men in Edmonton trying to beat addictions, 2 or 3 times a year our church provides meals to people in Edmonton’s inner city, and our denomination helps pay to rent a room in the middle of a brothel in Victoria so that women caught in prostitution can have a safe place with a Christian woman when they need to escape. As the founder of that ministry said powerfully, “In God’s eyes, there are no throw away people”.
Jesus was a social revolutionary. Do any of you remember my sermon from 4 years ago, March 17, 2002? It was called, “Jesus the Social Revolutionary”. You can probably guess the text, even if you don’t remember the sermon - the cleansing of the temple from Matt 21, where Jesus gets angry at the injustice of the sellers, the willing participation of the buyers, and the whole scale corruption of God’s desire for His temple to be “A house of prayer for all nations”, and for His people to be people of justice who stood beside and on behalf of the poor and the oppressed. While I won’t preach that same sermon, I do want to read the story (Matt 21:12-16):
12Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13"It is written," he said to them, " ’My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ’den of robbers.’"
14The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they were indignant.
16"Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked him.
"Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read,
" ’From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise’?"
Jesus the next in a long line
As a social revolutionary, Jesus was the next in a long line of people God had sent with strikingly similar messages.