Public Witness and Action
Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Defend the rights of the poor and needy. Proverbs 31:8-9
It is not possible to remain neutral in the face of poverty and the resulting just claims of the poor; a posture of neutrality would, moreover, mean siding with the injustice and oppression in our midst. Gustavo Gutiérrez, A Theology of Liberation
Throughout the Bible, God is seen acting for justice: freeing the Hebrew slaves and providing manna in the wilderness where everyone is told to take an equal amount and had all they needed (Ex. 16:16). The prophets challenged the powerful calling for God’s justice to be done. Jesus was a person of justice, of inclusion for all, who called on the rich to give to the poor.
Biblical Foundations for Advocacy offers an overview of what the Bible has to say about justice.
Christians today are called to continue the work of justice, to continue striving with God to build God’s reign “on earth as it is in heaven.” To be silent, to fail to act is to participate in the status quo, to support a nation and world disfigured by poverty and economic oppression.
Slightly modified, an oft-told story illustrates our Christian responsibility:
When I arrive at the pearly gates, St. Peter will not ask me whether I was like Moses, leading released captives out of Egypt. He will not ask whether I resisted a dictator’s oppression like Bonheoffer or led a peaceful rebellion to overthrow imperialism like Gandhi. No, I will be asked whether I worked to change economic and other injustices in the early 21st century.
Let us get ready to answer “yes!” Acting, witnessing, and working to change unjust structures and laws is an important part of our calling as Christians. Working for justice is a spiritual practice that strengthens and deepens our relationship with God.
See suggestions for ways to work for economic justice at Ways to Engage.
Resources for Public Witness and Action
Birch, Bruce C., Let Justice Roll Down: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Christian Life, Westminster/John Knox Press, 1991.
Blank, Rebecca M., Do Justice: Linking Christian Faith and Modern Economic Life, United Church Press, 1992.
Borg, Marcus J., The Heart of Christianity, Harper Collins, 2003.
Borg, Marcus J. and Tim Scorer, Living the Heart of Christianity: Putting Your Faith into Action, Harper Collins 2006.
Chittister, Joan, Cry Justice, Cry Hope, Benetvision Press, 2010.