(Austin Stone Worship note: part 1 of this post can be found here.)
In part 1, I talked about just one of the times that my heart has been broken by the fallen and unjust world we find ourselves in. We cannot escape the fact that this world is tragically more broken than we as American Christians want to admit. In this part, I want us to reflect on how the Gospel needs to impact us and the way we view ourselves as a part of the world as whole.
Cities & neighborhoods are full of despair, injustice, trafficking, and types of modern slavery. Racial injustice, hate crimes, orphaned and abused children, and stories of extreme poverty litter the streets of our shiny cities and it is the role of the local Church to seek the justice and redemption of the city, in Jesus name. Isaiah 58 tells us that we are to be the restorer of streets.
Sadly, sometimes it seems the world is more broken over the world’s brokenness than we are. Our culture has embraced one of the crucial pieces of the gospel more than we have – an aim for justice.
But social justice without the Gospel is a counterfeit of the real thing — merely a band-aid to a gaping wound. The theory of social justice can be glamorous, but being involved in seeking the redemption of the broken is messy, takes time, and usually brings with it no applause.
Here’s what justice through the lens of the gospel means:
- a realization that since we have been loved, we must then love.
- a realization that since we have been adopted, we must adopt.
- a realization that since we have been spared from physical and spiritual poverty, we must also seek the rescue of those in physical and spiritual poverty.
After leading worship for nearly fifteen years, I have come to the conclusion that it is a crucial role in the life of a worship pastor to lead the charge for seeking justice, renewal and redemption.
We demonstrate gospel justice primarily in three steps. I am going to discuss the first of the ways in this post, and I’ll get to the last two in part 3.
Step 1: Realize The Redemption and Justice We've Been Given
This might seem elementary, but I wonder how many of us actually have felt the weight and gravity of the cross of Jesus, and what his death and burial and resurrection implies for us personally? We know the story, and we can teach it well, but do we realize the implications of the Gospel on our lives?
- Our ministry and our talent is not primarily the result of hard work and strategic networks. The Gospel reminds us that we were once dead and Jesus alone breathed life into our lungs. Our “good things” are like filthy rags in His sight, meant to be used for His Kingdom and His purposes, not ours.
- Our merit and our worth are not found in the songs that we write. The Gospel tells us that we have no merit or worth outside of being known by and knowing God, through Jesus.
- Our holiness and right standing are not based on fleeing sin and being clean. The Gospel tells us our holiness is based on Jesus, alone.
- We do not “deserve” happiness & success. The Gospel tells us we deserve Hell, and the justice that we deserve was actually poured out on Jesus instead of us.
- We are no longer guilty and unclean. The Gospel tells us we are completely clean and redeemed by the blood of Jesus
- We are no longer in bondage to the chains of sins, addictions, lusts. The Gospel tells us the chains of sin are destroyed, and we are now in bondage (slaves) to Christ and slaves to righteousness.
These truths need to hit us with a weight and a heaviness. We have to come to a place where we REALIZE (make real) the redemption and justice that we’ve been given through Jesus.