The Biblical Social Justice Warrior
Throughout the history of Christianity, warriors have always held a special place in God’s kingdom on Earth. In the old testament, warriors marched around the walls of Jericho, praising God with trumpets till the walls fell. This helped the Israelites lay the first claim to the promised land. King David was a warrior, taking on the bully Goliath.
In Ephesians, chapter 6, Paul even describes the armor that a warrior of God might don to “stand against the devil’s schemes”. The armor includes the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation. Accompanied by “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”, this all makes for a formidable figure standing strong in God’s power.
With so much historical relevance for Christians, why does the image of a modern day warrior seem to be so disdained? Today’s picture of a “social justice warrior” has been so skewed from the original protectors of God’s true justice that we barely recognize the figure. Is there room for the holy warrior in today’s battle for true justice?
A Long History of Christian Social Justice
While the secular world may view the term justice as a means of defining political programs, the true spirit of social justice is to promote generosity and compassion, according to leaders like Darrow Miller, author of “Rethinking Social Justice: Restoring Biblical Compassion”.
The Bible defines compassion as “suffering together”, and no where is this more easily seen than in the example of Jesus. He left His home in heaven to suffer through a life of persecution on the Earth, ending in a horrible death that should have been our own. He didn’t give out money or create programs to help the needy; he fed them from his own hands and took their punishment for himself.
While the secular world has only just begun to use this buzzword, the fact is that the church has been fighting for true social justice since its very beginnings. Paul frequently advised churches in the New Testament to see to their poor, their widowed and orphaned. Here are more examples of how Christians have been fighting for social justice since early history:
Jeremiah 22:3: “Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hands of the oppressor him who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow.”
Psalm 82:3: “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.”
In Deuteronomy 15, we are told that should any of us become poor, we should open our hand to him and lend him what he needs. In Amos 5, we are told that trampling upon the poor and extracting heavy taxes from them will lead to our ruin. In Proverbs 22, God warns that a rich person who gets richer by oppressing the poor will be led to poverty. In Micah 6, sacrifices and offerings to the Lord are all shunned by Him in favor of a believer who does justice and shows kindness to others.
The list goes on and on.
What Can Christians Do Today?
Today more than ever, the armor of the holy warrior is needed to promote true, Biblical justice. But what tangible things can be done to continue the church’s long tradition of offering justice to those in need?
Take a look at what the Bible says to do. In every instance where justice is mentioned, it doesn’t say to loudly proclaim your beliefs about social justice, or to try to help others see why they are wrong in their beliefs. It simply tells us to help those in need. Here are some ways you can help those in need right now:
- Volunteer your time. There are dozens, hundreds, of ways to volunteer to help those less fortunate. Serve food in a soup kitchen, provide free professional services, offer counseling in battered women’s shelters. Find something that you have natural gifts or a passion for, and use that to help others, expecting nothing in return.
- Watch for chances to help. In many cases, you can find ways to help those around you simply by watching and being available. Offer a temporary home to a neighbor whose house burnt down; give your sibling a break from their kids for the weekend so they can visit their sick in-laws; help an elderly church member with their household chores. All of these actions, and many others, are the perfect embodiment of the one-on-one help demonstrated by the New Testament church.
- Give to the right charities. Private organizations that can control where their donations go are the best way to ensure that your money is being put to good use helping someone in need. There are thousands of charities all across the world that are excellent stewards of donations.
- Model God’s love to everyone, without exception. Perhaps the best way for any Christian to promote justice (compassion and generosity) for all is to be generous with love for all. Jesus didn’t tell us to only spread the good news of the Gospel to people of your same race, age, nationality, sexuality, political party, or gender. He said: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations”. (Matthew 28) Everyone you come across should feel as though they could count on you to show them Biblical love no matter what.
Don’t Forget the Defense
When we’re talking about a warrior, most people focus on the attack: what can you do right now to help promote Biblical justice? But don’t forget that defense is just as important. If you fall to all the forces trying to make you fail, you can’t keep up the battle.
The armor of God includes a shield, a protective breastplate, a helmet – all things designed to protect yourself. Be sure to regularly take breaks to ground yourself in the truth and love of the Lord, so that you will be the best Biblical social justice warrior you can be.