Our Responsibility to Others
Social justice is a term you may have heard before. The media writes about it, reporters investigate it and Christians are taught to serve those affected by this. But, what exactly is social justice? It is the equal distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privilege within a society -meaning people are entitled to the same jobs, rights chances, etc. and they can not be treated differently or refused help because of their gender, race, religion, geographical location or age. It isn’t a secret there are problems in our world. Unfortunately injustice occurs and not everyone is treated fairly. People are judged on their religious beliefs, paid less for being one gender versus the other, health care is considered luxurious in certain countries and people are struggling to put food and clean drinking water on the table. There are serious problems in the world and our job as Christ followers is to help fix them. But why?
The word of the lord
The Bible tells us to “above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8 (NIV). The word “love” is in the bible 551 times. This isn’t a mistake. The writers weren’t struggling to find an synonym for the word. The purpose for using this word 551 times is to instill in us the power of love and what we can accomplish when we love others. The same love that Jesus showed when dying on the cross for us, is within us. Loving someone is more than acting polite or respectful. Loving someone is showing kindness, being helpful and mirroring God. While it is impossible for us to be perfect like Him, we can make it a daily habit to strive to be like Him- this includes how we love. I think this message is a great reminder especially this time of year. As Easter approaches, we are reminded of exactly how much love Jesus has for us. He loved us enough to die a painful death. The least we can do is honor his teachings and love others by taking care of them.
If you read Bible, there are stories in almost every chapter about someone helping another who has less and is struggling. This ranges from fluctuating confidence in faith to not having enough food. “And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” Isaiah 58:10 (NIV). If we step outside of ourselves and selflessly love others the way Jesus loves us, we can change the world. Serving to me is like medicine for the heart. I have never once regretted helping someone and volunteering my time. Trust me, there are days I would rather stay home because I’m tired or not in the socializing mood, but when my volunteer day is complete I feel closer to God and purposeful completing the work He has instructed us to do.
As Christ followers we need to support each other in our community and globally. Mark 12:13 (NIV) encourages us to “love your neighbor as yourself”. We would do everything we can to lift ourselves out of poverty and take the steps needed to better ourselves, so why wouldn’t we do the same for others? It can be scary stepping outside of our comfort zones and taking action to help others. It may not be considered “cool” or even “worth it” to some, but remember why we serve and who.
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In Sunday school one of my favorite stories was Jesus walking on water. Recently re-reading Matthew 14:22-33, I saw the story in a new light. In the past the takeaway was how powerful Jesus is and how he would not let anything stand between Him and us. He would do anything to comfort us and be present in our lives. While I still believe this, the second message is bravery. Peter, one of the passengers in the boat saw Jesus walking on water towards him through the heavy wind and waves. The other disciples were frightened, thinking Jesus was a ghost coming towards them. He called out to them saying “take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Peter responded to Jesus asking Him to “tell me to come to you on the water”. He did. “Come” Jesus said. Without hesitation Peter started climbing out of the boat and walking towards Jesus. It was when “he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink” crying out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” He said, “why did you doubt?” I think as modern Christians we can become so easily distracted. Like Peter, we are walking on water towards Jesus then a second later aware of the distractions, opinions, grief and injustice around us and we begin to sink. We are all on different journeys. Some of us are deciding if we should step out of the boat, while others have walked across the water to Jesus. Wherever you are on your journey, be courageous and have faith. Trust that God is leading you where you need to be. Trust that you are supposed to volunteer at that specific place which seems to keep popping up. Trust Him because he will not let you sink. I often hear volunteers or those interested in making a difference in our world ask if “it really matters” because there seems to be a lot of hardship people are enduring and little people and resources to fix that. I think those questions come up when we start doubting God. Peter courageously stepped outside of the boat but when he started looking around at everything going on, not fixing his eyes on Jesus, he panicked. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed when tackling social justice. Remember to pray through it and trust that God is/ will use you to transform other’s lives and lead them to Him.
Below are images created to act as a reminder to not be afraid, to live as Jesus did taking care of others and to trust God’s plan. Use them as a computer, phone or tablet lockscreen/ wallpaper, share on Instagram stories, social media or send one to a friend.
We know Jesus is real, we understand His power yet we doubt Him by not giving Him our full attention.
Let’s be courageous like Peter.
Originally Written For: Aspiring Women’s Magazine