social justice IS a gospel value

If Jesus returned as Glenn Beck, by Mike Peters
If Jesus returned as Glenn Beck, by Mike Peters

As Jesus says in the gospel according to Matthew:

‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
then he will sit on the throne of his glory.

All the nations will be gathered before him,
and he will separate people one from another
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,
and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

Then the king will say to those at his right hand,
“Come, you that are blessed by my Father,
inherit the kingdom prepared for you
from the foundation of the world;
for I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
I was naked and you gave me clothing,
I was sick and you took care of me,
I was in prison and you visited me.

Then the righteous will answer him,
“Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food,
or thirsty and gave you something to drink?
And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing?
And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?”

And the king will answer them,
Truly I tell you,
just as you did it to one of the least of these
who are members of my family,
you did it to me.

Then he will say to those at his left hand,
“You that are accursed,
depart from me into the eternal fire
prepared for the devil and his angels;
for I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,
I was a stranger and you did not welcome me,
naked and you did not give me clothing,
sick and in prison and you did not visit me.”

Then they also will answer,
“Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison,
and did not take care of you?”

Then he will answer them,
Truly I tell you,
just as you did not do it to one of the least of these,
you did not do it to me.

And these will go away into eternal punishment,
but the righteous into eternal life.’

This seems pretty clear and obvious to me.  If you want Jesus to recognize you and save you, then you feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger and the homeless, visit the prisoner, and tend to the sick.  I’m still scratching my head at the idea that social justice would not be a basic value of Christianity.  Maybe Mr. Beck is reading a different bible than I am.

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6 thoughts on “social justice IS a gospel value

  1. No, it’s just that you and Beck are mirror images of each other; Jesus is just your mutual imaginary friend and you’re fighting to see which of you he likes better.

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  2. Misti, the doctrine of the Church is that we are saved by faith alone… but that faith in our all-loving God will naturally lead all of us to lives of kindness and charity toward all persons. It is usually in the poor that I’ve seen the most amazing examples of generosity: taking in one more person, even if that means the host sleeps on the floor; bringing one more person to the table, even though there wasn’t really enough food to go around already; giving love and care and companionship to anyone in need.

    Somehow, it is easy to be more generous when one doesn’t have much in the way of material possessions. One doesn’t really have anything to lose! But those of us who are comfortable, we risk far less of what we have to generosity and kindness, because we are afraid we will lose everything. And so in the face of the God who tells us he sent Jesus to this world “that you might have life, and have it ABUNDANTLY,” those of us who are comfortable act like we live in complete scarcity, while those who truly do live in scarcity are abundantly generous. It’s a little like the upside-down kingdom that Jesus describes in the gospels.

    Brad, I appreciate your point of view, and will not try to convince you otherwise. However, I invite you to read the source material as though you were engaging in literary criticism, and demonstrate from that material how one could reasonably conclude that social justice is antithetical to the teachings of the character Jesus who appears in the gospels. There is no necessity to buy in to Christianity, to choose to place your faith in God or in Jesus or any other divine being, to engage constructively in the discussion.

    Love and peace,
    sister hedwyg

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  3. So we are saved by grace not by works, allowing our kindness to the poor to be a result of that salvation and a reflection of the love Jesus showed us on the cross by dying for our sins. And i agree that we should feed the poor clothe the naked ect, it is just this text does not say that. This text is on future judgment based on who you are not what you have done. If i, as a Christian, are completely unable to serve the poor (for example, completely paralyzed )i am still able to be saved because it is not what i do, it is who i am. Also, if i am lost, and i feed the poor, i still am lost and have no relationship with Jesus then i am bound to hell. I just do not understand why this text in scripture was used to make a point… if you really wanted to call out Mr. Beck, call our the fact he is a Mormon….

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  4. Dear Misti,

    If you’ve poked around this blog very much, you’ve seen that I am a disabled person myself. Anyone can “feed my sheep,” but some are better equipped to do this in one way than in another. Regardless, it is work done for the Kingdom, and that is good.

    The reason I used this text from scripture is to directly counter Mr. Beck’s assertion that using the phrase “social justice” does not automatically make a clergyperson or a congregation bad, unChristian, or anti-Christian. In fact, social justice values can be found throughout the entire canon of scripture. When the prophets spoke out against the people, they called God’s people to feed each other and to take care of widows and orphans.

    On the topic of salvation, I will respectfully disagree with you. Let me be abundantly clear that I most emphatically do not believe in justification by works. But I believe (and can support biblically) that grace is extended purely from God, that it is unearned and undeserved, and that nothing can separate us from this grace.

    Right now is not a good time for me to enter into a debate on grace and salvation, as I was in a car accident earlier today, and my daughter both had pretty significant aggravation to existing conditions. Usually I’m happy to discuss theology, and I’m fascinated by soteriology and eschatology, but today… just not so much. I’m sorry.

    Love and blessings,
    sister hedwyg

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  5. Sorry to hear about your daughter, we will be praying for quick recovery, and God to be glorified in your day with her accident. Maybe we can discuss salvation at a later date.

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