Monday, September 19, 2011
“That is a nutty phrase,” remarked the radio commentator. Previously he had said, “I am so tired of hearing about this.” What was the phrase that he was referring to? It was “social justice.” Was this commentator coming from a conservative perspective? Yes, but not an extreme one. It could be truly said of him that he is “fair and balanced.” The spin indeed does stop with him.
My assertion is that the Biblical concept of justice is just justice. There can be nothing more, and certainly nothing less. To modify it in any way - even in an attempt at definition - brings great disservice to this eternal principle. Justice is one of the twin pillars of the foundation of the very throne of God - the other being righteousness. Any effort of finite amelioration will only have the opposite effect - to weaken or adulterate.
I was recently reading a scholarly attempt to define justice and righteous which was backed up indeed by practice. Yet the author’s conclusion was that the sum total of these two foundational principles was “social justice.” I was aghast as I read his summation - but why? At first I was perplexed, but then it began to dawn on me: “How can the glory of God rest upon such a limiting foundation?”
I could find no element of adoration in the author’s conclusions. There is nothing about the denigration of righteousness and justice to “social justice” that elicits worship. It does not inspire reverence for it is a profound degradation of the Divine Majesty.
Cannot secular social service agencies accomplish much the same thing as “social justice?” Is it not possible for gains to be made in this arena through “rendering unto Caesar” via our legislative processes? Are there not organizations that were birthed in the fire of revival - and in which this fire has become little more than a flicker - still able to reach out a hand of “social justice?”
My intent is not to detract from the aid supplied by these entities. Yet the questions above lead to another more profound question: “Do they provide true healing for the systemic disease - the corruption of the human spirit - or are they only treating the symptoms?” Is the care only palliative lacking the power to resurrect and transform? If there is no wonderment - no sense of the revelation of the hidden mystery - then the answer must be yes. If there is a void of awe inspiring worship, then nothing is being accomplished of eternal significance.
An apex occurrence of true worship - at least within the realms of his immediate revelation - can be seen embodied in Cornelius the Centurion. Even before he had heard the truth of the Gospel he was a God-fearer. He was a doer of justice and righteousness for it is said of him: “he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.” This is true worship - a point of intersection between heaven and earth - through which the angelic messenger spoke to him: "Your prayers and alms have ascended as a (lasting) memorial before God.”
Authentic wholistic devotion produces effects with eternal results. This occurrence lead directly to the Council of Jerusalem which served to accelerate the propulsion of the Message unto the world stage - escaping the snare of becoming just another in a line of Jewish sects.
Only true worship can produce immutable consequences for it is what the Father is seeking. It may expect, even anticipate - but it does not assume. The Father’s ultimate objective is to conform the worshiper into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29) for that is what pleases Him the most. To assume is to exert privilege which is quite the opposite from the Eternal Son who laid aside His privileges. The posture of the true worshiper is one of humility and that is what most resembles God's only Son, the one who is closest to the Father's heart, who has made him known (John 1:18).
The Church - of which we are a part - falls woefully short of the Father’s objective when we confine worship to musical activity at certain places and at set times–calling it services. I almost made objective plural. The objective of God the Father is never plural - it is singular and that singularity is the image of the Son of His Love.
True worship is an all-encompassing lifestyle marked by the doing of justice and righteous for this is the foundation of the Glory of God - the two witnesses. This is the place of His habitation–from which He presides over the affairs of man. It is none other than the House of the Lord whose plumb line is righteousness and level line justice: "For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.” 2 Chronicles 7:16
We must avoid the tendency to reduce the Church to some form of dichotomy; thus attributing to it dual purposes. This is the position of the author that reduced righteousness and justice to “social justice.” A dualistic church cannot be whole–it is powerless to give expression to the very oneness for which her Savior has prayed. This bifurcation causes one aspect of the church to spin off into moral relativism, while the other basks in the illusion of a form of gnostic spirituality. This concept has engendered the misnomer para-church. We must no longer give countenance to such misconceptions if we are to give witness to Christ’s resurrected life.
The words of this great hymn must ring hollow within the vacuity of a dualistic church.
Crown Him the Son of God, before the worlds began,
And ye who tread where He hath trod, crown Him the Son of Man;
Who every grief hath known that wrings the human breast,
And takes and bears them for His own, that all in Him may rest.