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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

"Jesus on Justice" (Don Posterski)

TITLE: Jesus on Justice, Living Lives of Compassion and Conviction
AUTHOR: Don Posterski
PUBLISHER: Mississauga, ON: World Vision Canada, 2013, (156 pages).

What does Jesus has to say about justice? Will he be fighting for a piece of the economic pie on behalf of the poor? Will he be inciting demonstrations on Wall Street to champion the needs of the economically disadvantaged? Will he be giving speeches to haunt the conscience of the rich and the powerful? In this book, we learn that Jesus actually has a lot to say about social justice, but not in the manner that we are used to. According to the author, the four ways in which Jesus exercises social activism are:

  1. Inclusiveness, to include the excluded in society;
  2. Counter-Cultural, to challenge existing cultural practices especially if it is wrong;
  3. Confronting the powerful;
  4. Advocating for the oppressed.

Posterski links any act of social justice to a need to experience for oneself what poverty, marginalization, and social injustice mean. He defines social justice as one where "people are treated equally without prejudice and able to access a fair share of the world's resources; while living with dignity, people are given opportunities to pursue and sustain their well being as responsible citizens contributing to their communities."

As far as Jesus is concerned, justice comes in two dimensions: Spiritual and social. Spiritually, it is about obeying the calling of the Spirit to be touched to touch others; blessed to bless others; healed to heal others. Like Luke 4:16-21, Jesus begins his ministry with a proclamation of his calling. Christians have this calling. Socially, it is about being bold to repeatedly right the wrongs of society. We are freed to free others. Using whatever legitimate resources available, we can exercise and continue Jesus' mission on earth. Based on God's identity in the Triune Godhead of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we see how our mission has a three-fold emphasis: Great Commandment, Great Commission, Great Requirement. In Christ, all of these three overlap. This overlap plays out in four distinct thrusts.

First, there is the thrust of Jesus including the excluded. People such as the social outcasts in society, the gender inequality situations, as well as children. These people can be found in many places, like within the Church or denomination; the country; or our neighbours.

Second, there is the thrust of challenging cultural practices of racism, unfair treatment of people, and risking one's reputation by associating with the drunkards and prostitutes. All of these stem from "Christian motivation" that recognizes the dignity and value of every human being, as well as loving our neighbour as God has called us to. One example is to learn to surrender our shared privileges for the greater good of the community.

Third, the call to challenge the powerful and the proud. The human costs of injustice are high. Our calling is to stop doing nothing, but to start doing something no matter how insignificant it seems to be. Like Jesus reaching out to Zaccheaus, or him denouncing the legalistic Pharisees, we are called to speak up for the silenced and the poor. Instead of dethroning the existing powers, we can do something better: Be an agent to help reorder priorities. For example, look at how Jesus answers the question of paying taxes. Render to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what's God's.

Four, be an advocate for the oppressed such as the poor, the under-privileged, and the tormented. There are real causes of economic poverty. For example, people born in poor countries and economically challenged cultures will seem to be unfairly ushered into a world of poverty right from birth. It can also be a harsh religious climate that makes things more difficult. The point is not to dwell in social poverty all the time and then complain without doing anything. The point is to have a spiritual awakening on demarginalized people groups and the poor, in order to bring about positive change. Posterski proposes eight tasks based on the acronym ADVOCACY.

  • Addresses issues of injustice
  • Designs strategies to alter systems
  • Values vulnerable people as agents of change
  • Offers expertise to implement objectives
  • Convinces power structures to alter policies
  • Accesses like-minded people to join the cause
  • Changes policies, practices, and perceptions
  • Yearns for justice that leads to sustainability.

So What?

In a nutshell, life is not fair. Life can be very cruel to the oppressed. The facts are clear that this world is deeply divided between the haves and the have-nots. The truth is, it need not remain that way. As followers of Jesus, we have a big role to play with regards to spiritual and social justice. In this book, Posterski has focused on the righting of wrongs, championing for the poor, advocating for justice, and to live lives filled with compassion and with conviction. Just like Jesus. It really all boils down to Jesus and his mission. Called a "biblical action guide," Posterski has written this book with action in mind. The ideas are biblically based, socially aware, and practically designed with steps that readers and Bible believers can take. It is specific enough for people to know exactly what needs to be done. It is general enough to give people an idea of the needs and problems that need to be addressed.

Is there an order that we can adopt with regards to the four thrusts? I do not think so. At least, I say, it depends on the different situations we are in. At best, I can say a combination of all four is in place. Thus, the ideas in this book need to be considered as a whole, letting spiritual awareness leads to a spiritual awakening. This will lead to a social awareness that leads to a spiritual awareness and practical steps to do something about it. The ideas in the book are good but should be treated only as a starting point or to jump start our call to action. What is more important is to let the love of God touch our hearts, knowing that the moment we understand with compassion like Jesus, we will be able to serve the needs of the world around us with conviction, like Jesus.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by the publisher and Graf-Martin Communications in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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