As a Christian, I believe one of our mandates in this world is to bring hope, help, and healing to those in need. Christ continually and creatively called the least of these into His presence. His work uplifted the marginalized and ostracized. Diseased, downtrodden, demeaned, destitute: Christ loved and served them all. He brought voice to the voiceless and brought perpetrators to account.
This particular Kingdom work is what we call social justice—recognizing and actively working to ensure the dignity of every human being. Caring for those who are vulnerable, and bringing to justice those who prey on the vulnerable.
We live in a world with many corners and shades of darkness. Human trafficking, child labor, homelessness, genocide, abuse of every kind. The depth of darkness can be overwhelming at times.
In his collection of sermons, Strength to Love, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
The heart of social justice is a heart motivated by love—the kind of Christ-love that drives out fear, that meets needs, that flushes out hate, which reaches into darkness with light. I challenge you to consider ways in which you might become more aware of those in need in our world and how you might—in some large or small way—participate in meeting those needs.
The following are some of my very favorite books on social justice, books in my library that have truly challenged me to engage with human need locally and globally
1. Compassion, Justice, and the Christian Life / Robert Lupton
2. Rich Christian in an Age of Hunger / Ronald J. Sider
3. Follow Me to Freedom / Shane Claiborne & John Perkins
4. When Helping Hurts / Brian Fikkert
5. The End of Poverty / Jeffrey Sachs
6. Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership / Ruth Haley Barton
7. Serving with Eyes Wide Open / David Livermore
8. Leading with Cultural Intelligence / David Livermore
9. Mountains Beyond Mountains / Tracy Kidder
10. Orphan Justice: How to Care for Orphans Beyond Adoption / Johnny Carr & Laura Captari