Justice Ministry Opportunities The Peacemaker Project
"What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?" Says the Lord. Bring your worthless offerings no longer, Incense is an abomination to Me. New Moons and sabbath, the calling of assemblies-I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly. I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, They have become a burden to Me. I am weary of bearing them. So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood. Wash yourselves, make yourself clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow."
Isaiah 1:11, 13-17
Justice is central in the Bible. The topic is covered far more often than sexual morality, which the evangelical church has become expert. God gets so angry that He will refuse to listen to the prayers of the unjust. He becomes sick of their religious observances. Jesus mentions in Matthew 25:41-46 that He will consign to Hell those who have been unjust to the least. Do I have your attention yet?
Justice ministries will be central to life at Manna, because it is central to the gospel. However, the road to justice is not paved through politics, particularly right-wing Republican politics. Jesus told Pilate that his Kingdom was not of this world. (See John 18:36) What makes us think that after two thousand years God changed his mind and votes Republican or Democrat? The hard-heartedness of the Christian right repels God, while the hypocrisy of the left sickens Him when it comes to justice issues. When it comes to family issues, the licentious immorality of the left angers Him, while the hypocrisy of the Christian right nauseates Him. Is it any wonder that Jesus said that His kindom is not of this world? Christians always stand apart from any social order as aliens to the existing order. Peter said as much in the book of First Peter.
Manna will proceed practically on an issue-by-issue and case-by-case basis, but it will never be a pawn in anyone's political agenda. When I have been an active pastor, I have never voted, since I do not want God's house to become a house for political theives who sap our souls and turn our eyes away from Jesus. I've listed below specific justice requirements straight from the Bible. I do not prescribe any political agenda or plan on how we are to do justice in these areas, but if you can not have a heart for the oppressed and the poor, do not come to Manna. We will not bow to the false gods of the Christian media and bookstores.
This is only a partial list. However, you should get the idea. We will use the Bible to challenge us to obedience and spur us to greater love by the power of the Holy Spirit, not figure out how to be hard-hearted. Do not expect me as a pastor to explain away our requirements of true Christian obedience. The Bible tends to mean what he says. Yes, our context is different, but the heart of man is the same. Oppression has not gone out of fashion. Therefore, God's people must always be on the side of the poor, the oppressed, and the helpless.
Additionally, justice is not only directed outward but "inward". "Inward justice" is concerned with justice in the church. This issues revolves around two major issues: 1). Treating fellow Christians with justice and mercy; 2). Rooting out rot, immorality, and corruption with the church. Much of Scripture is concerned with this last issue.
The evangelical Chrisitan ministry is a multi-billion dollar "business". Yes, I said business. Now I'm not against business per se, (I've run several successful businesses myself) but the Christian ministry is not a business, corrupt or otherwise-even if we must use business practices. Jesus' commentary on the Pharisees, who were the religious people of the day, was that they had turned God's house into a den of theives rather than a house of prayer. (Matthew 21: 13) Many good-hearted and faithful people in the Christian ministry are afraid to bring this out for two reasons: 1). They fear a backlash; and 2). They are afraid of holding the church up to public ridicule. While I really do respect these people, they are wrong on both counts. First, the ministry is not for the faint-hearted. Go into another profession. Secondly, God seems much more concerned about the purity of the church rather than the ridicule. If we are ridiculed or persecuted for the right reasons, we are blessed. (See the beatitudes in Matthew 5-7) However, if we are persecuted and ridiculed for the wrong reasons, we sicken God and he will punish. The wide spread and pervasive corruption in the evangelical church is a serious problem. We can not be silent.