Social causes come and go like bad fashion trends, sometimes quite literally: What color bracelet are you wearing this month?
Surely our consumer-conditioned attention spans have something to do with this, but let’s be real: When you care about something enough to devote serious time and energy, it can be discouraging when the anticipated results never materialize.
Many people know they should care for the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed, but few are motivated to do this over the course of a lifetime. Jesus reminds his followers, “You always have the poor with you” (Mark 14:7). In other words, we ain’t gonna solve poverty anytime soon.
How in the world can we keep up the good work when it feels like a lost cause? Good theology.
Theological types often get stereotyped as all head and no heart. This is unfortunate because a few key doctrines of the faith provide the sustainable inspiration we need for a lifetime of good works.
Love everybody, because imago Dei
If we believe that everyone is made in the image of God—imago Dei—then everyone is worthy of dignity, love, basic human rights and hearing biblical truth.
Those who abuse people made in God’s image through enslavement, torture, rape and grinding poverty are dehumanizing people and insulting God Himself. Many victims of human trafficking and abuse report how they felt inhuman after being oppressed.
Those who believe in the imago Dei should live out their theology through practical acts of love for the oppressed and vulnerable.
Show mercy, because redemption
The Bible records for us the story of God coming to save people. When we were enslaved, He freed us. When we were orphans, He adopted us. When we were sojourners, He welcomed us. When we were widows, Christ became our groom.
The mercy and justice of God meet at the cross, where our redemption comes from. We needed His redemption because we cannot live up to the standard God has set. But One did. Jesus Christ is the ultimate display of a life of righteousness and justice. Through repentance and faith in Christ, we are clothed in His righteousness.
Now, as believers, we have power to live just lives, and when we fail, we know God won’t crush us, for He has already crushed Christ in our place. Now we pursue justice because we love God, and have already been accepted in Him.
We want to show mercy. That’s what God’s redemption has done for us.
Stay hopeful, because restoration
The good news about injustice isn’t only that we’re making some progress today, though we are. We take heart knowing that the King of kings will return to restore this broken world, bringing perfect peace—shalom.