In ONMB Blog

Reflections: Chapter 10, “TOV Churches Nurture Justice”

Salt and Light

For many years, when you say the word “justice” to numerous Christians in the West it causes some form of a reaction stemming from a split over “truth” and “justice”. For more Conservative Christians there is often a limited focus on proclaiming the truth and evangelism while more Progressive Christians often limit their focus to justice. However, in the Sermon on the Mount, there is a call to be both “salt and light” (Matt 5:13-16). As author Skye Jethani points out, like the preservative salt, we have the defensive responsibility to prevent evil and stop the “decay of injustice”. Like light, we have the offensive responsibility to “spread truth, goodness, and beauty”. Tov Churches are Churches that see the need to be both salt and light.

Many Churches proclaim the light. Every Sunday the Pastor walks up the stairs to their pulpit to proclaim the “truth” found in the scriptures. They sing songs proclaiming that “we believe”, run Bible studies to discuss the words of the Holy text, and pray that Christ may be made known. Yet, when you pull back the curtain, you may see mistreatment of those within the Church community, a closed off attitude to the local community, or maybe a fight to be a resistance against the culture. In proclaiming the truth, the call or action of justice is often forgotten. The reality is that people like Mark Driscoll, James McDonald, Bill Hybels preached the truth in prodigious sermons. However, when they left the pulpit (and sometimes from the pulpit) they bred a culture of injustice, mistreatment, and sometimes abuse. They called for loyalty for the sake of the truth and the mission. But sadly, loyalty, can mean stepping back and closing one’s eyes when injustice is staring you in the face. As the prophet Amos cried out, religion and the pursuit of truth without justice is worthless:

21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to me.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!
Amos 5:21-24 (NIV)

Reflection from Derek Klumpenhouwer, Pastor of Families & Connections at WMB Church

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