Reflections · Social Justice

How do we know need?

In Perry Yoder’s book Shalom: The Bible’s Word for Salvation, Justice, & Peace, he speaks of salvation as physical liberation. His economics of shalom are based on need and contrast significantly from wealth economics that prize exchange for gain and value hoarding and having more than others.

But what is need? What would represent shalom justice?

Early on Yoder points out that God’s shalom justice doesn’t make sense separate from God as creator. I think that ultimately what we need is that which would allow us to exercise our God-given gifts and live out what we were meant to be. Malnourishment, inadequate education, and disease brought about from economic poverty clearly keep so many in our world from being the full part of Christ’s body here on earth.

Yes, some of this is because of personal sin. But more often than not it is the sin of an oppressor, not just the sin of the oppressed, that bring about this disenfranchisement.

Those of us who live with more than enough and who do not follow the Biblical call for redistribution through gleaning, jubilee, and sacrificial giving bring about this disenfranchisement.

Those of us who gain privilege through unjust laws that reward the rich at the expense of the poor bring about this disenfranchisement

Yet how many times have I spoken of being the hands and feet of Christ to bring charity to the poor. Perhaps I need to be Christ’s hand because through my life choices and unjust laws those who were called to be hands instead have severed limbs. So I who was called to perhaps be a knee instead serves the role of another. And as a result sin continues to disrupts God’s new kingdom.

Perhaps I need to return to being a knee, working to provide a blow to the groin of unjust laws and practices so that everyone can fully exercise their gifts and live in shalom.

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