What can you do as a Christian to fight injustice? What should you do as a Christian to fight injustice?
Believers acknowledge that the only way to fix the injustices of our world is through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Moral reform, legal reform, or social reform cannot change the heart of a sinner, and the sinful heart is the reason for injustice in our world. As long as sinners are enslaved to sin, they will commit hateful acts that harm others and further unrighteousness in society.
As we read Scripture we also see that believers are called to be obedient to Christ in manifold ways that include but are not limited to evangelism of unbelievers. For example, Galatians 6:10 says, “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” The imperative to “do good to all people” is all-encompassing. It certainly includes telling people the gospel, but it also includes such good deeds as helping the needy, discipling another believer, or showing compassion to the hurting. Believers are called to do these things in obedience to God’s commands and as a testimony to others.
When the question arises of how a believer should fight injustice in the world in obedience to God’s commands and as a testimony to others, the question is more complicated than it might at first appear. The first question that should be asked is, “Which injustices will you fight?” The world is full of injustice. From gang violence to drug addiction, from hatred to abortion, from abuses of authority to rampant crime, there are no shortages of injustices a believer might seek to oppose. How does a Christian know what injustice he should address or seek to remedy?
One problem with the current way Christians seek to confront injustice is they simply follow the world in picking what injustices they will oppose. Whatever current injustice dominates the news headlines is the injustice that people think needs addressed. It is certainly possible, and even likely, that the story at the top of the news is a real injustice that we should oppose in principle, but does that mean that each individual Christian is called to do something about that particular instance or even that particular form of injustice in society? If so, the injustices we oppose will change quickly, and we will spend more energy trying to figure out the latest trend than we will opposing injustice.
Another question that should be asked is, “How will I oppose injustice?” Posting a profile picture on social media is not opposing injustice. It’s virtue-signaling. Joining a protest march helps no one, and when those marches become violent, they actually further injustice. Furthermore, we don’t see any biblical precept or example that would encourage Christians to oppose injustices in such a broad, impersonal, and generic way. If we are going to do good to all people and truly oppose injustice, we should do something that actually helps real people, people we see and hear and with whom we interact as human beings made in God’s image.
How should a Christian answer these two questions?
First, which injustices should you oppose? Obviously, Christians should oppose in principle and in prayer all injustices in the world. Practically, however, our time and talents are limited, so opposing all injustices with personal and direct action is not realistic. A helpful way to answer this question is to look at the people around you. The people around you are the primary people God has put in your life for you to love by doing good to them. For most of us, the people around us are our family, our church family, our co-workers, our friends, and our neighbors. These are the primary people for whom you are to pray and to whom you are to do good. When they suffer an injustice, you should be there for them to support them, to empathize with them, to show them compassion, and to help them gain justice if possible. If they are unbelievers, the most important way you can do good to them is to call them to repentance and faith in Christ without neglecting other ways of showing them kindness.
Some Christians have a passion about a certain type of injustice and feel called to oppose something that perhaps is not impacting their circles of influence but is impacting certain groups within their city or region. Some Christians might feel called to oppose the injustice of abortion. Others might feel called to oppose the injustice of inner-city gang violence. Others might feel called to address the problem of broken families in areas of high poverty. Others might feel called to help improve relationships between people of different ethnicities, cultures, or backgrounds in their community. Not all believers are called to this type of broad service in their community, but some are. Those who are called to these types of good works should do them without condemning others God has not called in the exact same way.
As an example, our family felt called to do something to help battle the injustice of abortion. Due to some providential circumstances, we believed God wanted us to address this injustice through adoption. One of the greatest gifts we ever received was our little girl, adopted out of a life that almost certainly would have been marked by poverty and fatherlessness and that would have been devoid of Christian influence. God called my wife and I to adopt, and we have been blessed immensely by that calling. However, that does not mean that every believer is called to adopt. Some people definitely should not adopt. We are all called to do the unique good works God has prepared for us. We should do them without looking down on others called to something else.
First and foremost, then, Christians should address whatever injustices are directly impacting their family, friends, and neighbors, the people with whom they come into contact on a regular basis. We should also see if God has a broader plan for us to address certain injustices that impact people beyond our circles of influence and, if He does, we should seek to be obedient to that calling.
How do we address these injustices? In the case of the people we know personally, we need to do two things. First, we need to support those who are suffering unjustly through prayer, encouragement from Scripture, and in tangible ways that might help them address their unjust suffering. If our neighbor can’t afford a lawyer, for example, perhaps we help him hire one to defend himself or litigate against someone who has treated him unjustly. Second, we need to encourage our neighbors with the truth that not every injustice will be corrected in our fallen world prior to Christ’s return. If we suffer unjustly and remain faithful to the Lord, the Lord sees and will reward us at His coming. That means every injustice the believer suffers ultimately works for our good, so we can patiently endure injustices knowing that God is faithful. This way of addressing injustice opens the door of evangelism with unbelievers as well, as we can tell them of how Jesus was crucified unjustly to save unjust people who trust in Him.
If we are called to address a broader injustice, that will require significant sacrifice from us. For example, if you want to do something to help women who are considering murdering their unborn child, you might consider volunteering your time at a crisis pregnancy center to counsel women with God’s Word, not only to save a life but to save a soul through the gospel. If you are concerned about the plight of people in the inner-city, you should consider moving to the inner-city so that you can serve people in those circumstances and have a real, tangible impact in their lives. If you want to help fight drug abuse and addiction, you can go to places where you know you will find addicts and seek to minister the gospel to them, and in doing so you will learn about other needs they have and other ways you might be able to help them. Fighting injustice on a broad scale does not happen in a march or on a Facebook post. It happens when we go to people who are suffering, live among them, love them, and tell them the story of Christ, who came to seek and to save the lost.
The problem with how Christians often seek to address injustice today is that we want to feel like we have addressed injustice but we don’t want to make the sacrifice that addressing injustice actually requires. We want to see incarceration rates of poor young men from the inner-city come down, but we don’t want to take the time to become a father to the fatherless. It’s easier to blame the incarceration rate on “the system” than to pour your life into someone who isn’t the victim of a system but of a father who loved his sin more than his son. We want to see women stop aborting their babies but we don’t want to give up a Saturday every month to go volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center. We want to see unbelievers repent and come to know Christ, but we don’t want to risk damaging a relationship by speaking the gospel when an opportunity arises. And so we settle for feeling like we have done something by carrying a sign or posting on social media, when in reality we have done nothing that has helped anyone at all.
The biblical reality is that many injustices in the world would be addressed if we would simply be faithful Christians in our ordinary lives with the people around us. If we were faithful in prayer, faithful in the Word, faithful to be involved in our local church, faithful to love our spouses and raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, faithful to love our friends and neighbors and speak truth to the unbelievers around us, and faithful to support ministries that advance the Great Commission, many injustices we can impact would be addressed. The Lord uses the faithful obedience of ordinary Christians to achieve extraordinary things. And when, in God’s providence, temporal injustices are not changed, we would have the patience to continue to do good even in the face of opposition and injustice. Such faithfulness would provoke the unbelievers who see us to ask the reason for the hope that is within us. And then we can tell them how God is not only just but the Justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.