There has been a massive popular culture move towards social justice. This move is both a great thing and a terrible thing. The reasons why it is a great thing are obvious. The reasons why it is a terrible thing are not so obvious. Since they are less obvious, I am going to mostly talk about why this pop culture shift towards social justice is not all it is cracked up to be.
Before I go any further, I want to be clear that the cry for social justice is a wonderful thing and I applaud all just and truthful efforts in increasing justice in our world.
First Terrible Problem
However, I need social justice efforts to be just and truth-based. In other words, rash overreactions to a wrong is not something I can support. I can sympathize with overreactions, but I cannot support them. Let me give you a couple examples from both sides.
The Black Lives Matter campaign is largely an overreaction movement. The people leading these chapters have overreacted and imagined their situation to be worse than it actually is. Is there racism that leads to black people being unjustly treated? Absolutely. I can sympathize with my black friends because of this. However, is their plight so bad that they need to purposefully disrupt innocent people’s lives and stir up more animosity through their actions? Absolutely not. I cannot support their cause.
Recently several governors in the United States decided to refuse all refugees due to an infinitesimally small number of terrorists who crept through any screening processes. This was an overreaction to an obvious problem. Instead of increasing security measures for the sake of helping innocent and hurting people, these governors rejected all people because of the dastardly deeds of a few. I can sympathize with their concern, but I cannot support their actions.
Many social justice movements are not necessarily well-thought out and analyzed movements. They are quick, easy, and popular reactions to a very real problem. This is something that is not good.
Second Terrible Problem (Shameless Plug)
I have written on something that goes hand-in-hand with pop culture social justice movements. It is called Self-righteousness. Please click here to read more about that.
So far this post has not directly addressed the title I have given it. So let us get to that.
Third Terrible Problem
In the social justice movement it is common to invoke the name of Jesus Christ. This certainly is not surprising since Christ said justice was one of the most important aspects of the Law (Matthew 23:23) and because the prophets of the Old Testament frequently decried unjust treatment of the unprivileged (Isaiah 1:16-17; Jeremiah 22:3; Micah 6:8). And besides that, He is Jesus. Who does not want to say Jesus is on their side? I mean, come on.
The problem with this is that Christ Himself would not so easily throw His hat in with many of the pop culture social justice cries.
Christ cares about social justice, but He cares more about our personal response to injustices against us. In the face of injustice, Christ wants us to check our hearts to make sure there is no wrong in us first, and then to respond with grace and truth. Allow me to prove this to you.
Luke 12:13-21 is an extremely fascinating passage. In this passage a person asks Jesus to tell his brother to share the family inheritance with him. This was a big opportunity for Jesus to stand up for social justice. But how did Jesus reply? Instead of taking the opportunity to reprimand the brother who kept the family inheritance for himself, Jesus reprimanded the person who asked for the inheritance to be shared! He looked at the man and warned him about greed. Jesus was more concerned that the person who was seemingly unjustly treated responded correctly in the face of injustice.
Christ’s message is first and foremost one that deals with the heart. In Mark 12:28-31 Christ was asked which commandment was the greatest of them all (for you Lord of the Rings fans: one commandment to rule them all). Christ responded that the greatest commandment was to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (and yes, Jesus would have added the Oxford comma). Notice how the commandment is centered around a heart response: Love.
Even the second greatest commandment which Christ voluntarily gave centers around the heart. The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. Love is a matter of the heart.
Putting Christ’s message back on track means making His message primarily concerned with our heart, not our physical or economic standing. Once the heart is dealt with properly, the physical and economical aspects will be dealt with more correctly.
Still not convinced? Let me give you another passage.
In Luke 20:21-25 Christ is asked if it is right to pay taxes to Caesar. If Christ’s primary task was to improve everybody’s economic standing, then He would have taken this gift-wrapped opportunity to decry social injustice, economic disparity, and even imperialism. Instead Christ answered by taking a coin and pointing out that it was Caesar’s image on the coin and concluded, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” Social standing was not the primary concern for Christ; His primary concern was the heart. This is proven by the next phrase out of Christ’s mouth.
The next phrase out of Christ’s mouth was, “And give to God what is God’s.” What is God’s? Well, Caesar’s image was on the coin, but God created humans in His image, so His image is on us. If God’s image is on us, then that means we ought to be giving our being to God. Our being is represented in our culture by our heart, so that means God wants us to give our hearts to Him. Again, God cares more about our hearts than anything else. Why? Because once our hearts are given to Him, everything else will fall into line.
Giving our hearts to God is a more complete task than a lot of us think. Giving our hearts to God means we also give our money, our desires, our pursuits, our time, and everything else we are, have, and do. If we do not give these other things as well, then we probably have not truly given our hearts to God.
While Christ was certainly concerned with justice for all, He was more concerned with a proper heart response. Christ came primarily to fix our heart condition, not our financial condition. God knows that our financial standing and our spiritual state are loosely linked, and that is one reason why He commands that we care for both. But our spiritual state is the stronger of the two and can help us overcome deficiencies in our physical condition.
Of course our spiritual state is in need of repair, and that is why we need Christ. Christ gave us a way for our spiritual state to improve by giving us a path to forgiveness and reconciliation with God. Christ’s primary message was, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” That means we need to first look at ourselves and realize that our hearts are sinful and we need a God to heal our hearts before He heals our wallets.
Let us put Christ’s message back on track. By doing that, Christ’s secondary messages will be more effective.
Calls for social justice can be a great thing. However, many popular social justice causes are not fully thought out and reviewed to ensure that they are just and truth-based. There are many terrible things that can come from these popular movements, not the least of these being self-righteousness. While Christ was concerned about justice, He was more concerned with our response to injustices against us. Christ came to fix our heart’s condition. Give God your heart and watch Him work wonders in the rest of your life.