Stephen Mattson is the author of The Great Reckoning: Surviving a Christianity That Looks Nothing Like Christ. You can follow him on Twitter (@mikta) or on Facebook.
Posts By This Author
Political Xenophobia: Back and Stronger Than Ever
There’s a name for xenophobic-motivated politics: nativism. Oxford Dictionaries defines nativism as: 1)The policy of protecting the interests of native-born or established inhabitants against those of immigrants, and 2) A return to or emphasis on traditional or local customs, in opposition to outside influences.
History Will Judge Today's Christians According to These 4 Questions
1. In the midst of a historically horrible refugee crisis, why didn’t you actively pursue helping the poor, the destitute, and those in desperate need?
Are followers of Jesus supposed to forsake compassion, sacrifice hospitality, and abandon love in favor of a political policy, national security, financial stability, and personal comfort? God is perfectly clear what the mandate is for helping those in need, and yet Christians continue to remain apathetic, passive, and even aggressively hostile toward the notion of aiding such victims.
'Making a Murderer:' The Justice System Non-White Americans Have Been Dealing with for Generations
Only in America can you have a huge segment of society become obsessed with a cultural sensation that revolves around the themes of unjust incarceration, a biased legal system, corrupt law enforcement, and a judicial process that disproportionately targets the poor and underrepresented, and simultaneously have the majority of this exact same group not understand the reality of racial injustice.
Rejecting Refugees, Rejecting Christ
Whether you like it or not, Christians are called to help the world’s most abused, hurt, helpless, exploited, and destitute.
If you’re a follower of Christ passionate about social justice, of if you attend a church that claims to be enthusiastic about global missions, or if you’re part of a Christian organization that facilitates ministry, you’ve been handed a golden opportunity — the ability to minister to millions of people in desperate need.
This is a chance to be radically countercultural — to glorify Christ through selfless sacrifice, hospitality, and love. Being a Christ-follower isn’t easy, and it will require hard work, but it’s worth it.
Social Justice Is a Christian Tradition — Not a Liberal Agenda
Christians do a disservice to the gospel message by removing the cultural context from Jesus’s ministry and watering down his message to one of religious platitudes. We like to generalize the words of Jesus and transform his life into a one-size-fits-all model that can apply to all of humanity.
Throughout the New Testament Jesus was more complex than we give him credit for.
He intentionally, purposefully, and passionately addressed very specific causes. He radically addressed the diverse and complicated conflicts of the time and shattered the status quo.
Jesus wasn’t just preaching a universal salvation message for the world, but he was also addressing specific political, social, and racial issues. He was helping those who were being abused, violated, and oppressed.
Our Social Commentary vs. the Gospel
Like many things — theological beliefs, worships styles, forms of baptism, and preferred interpretations of the Bible — Christians are divided when it comes to which social justice issues, culture wars, and current events are worth supporting and condemning or even talking about.
Followers of Christ can be against gay marriage or for it, Democrat or Republican, a pacifist or a soldier, a vegan or a meat-eater, an animal rights advocate or a hunter — Christians constantly contradict one another, and that’s OK.
8 Things Christians Want You to Know
Ultimately, Christianity is about Jesus — not Christians. Although we try our best to emulate Jesus, we constantly fail, but please judge our faith based upon Jesus and not our Christian culture — because they aren’t the same thing.
Inevitably, we’ll continue to be polarizing in numerous ways across political, social, and religious platforms, and we’ll still commit bad mistakes, make hurtful remarks, and end up being wrong about many things. But for most Christians, our ultimate desire is introduce people to Jesus, who inspires us to make the world a better place by loving everyone around us to the best of our ability. God help us.
Be a Christian, Not a Consumer
It’s ok to buy stuff. To exist in a Westernized world means navigating a daunting array of products, services, and goods that are constantly being marketed to your every want, need, and desire. You’re not going to go to hell for buying a pair of jeans.
But a consumer-driven society can cause Christians to idolize perfectionism. When this happens, they expect flawless worship, sermons, pastors, staff, childcare, youth programs, mission trips, conferences, camps, vacation Bible schools, classes, and even relationships.
Inevitably, when aspects of our Christian faith do cause disappointment (and they will), our constant cultural experience of being the consumer — on the receiving end of infinite commercials, advertising campaigns, and target-driven media that tells us the customer is always right — causes us to feel entitled to something better.
So we respond by complaining, demanding change, boycotting, or even abandoning any part of Christianity’s existence that is letting us down.
But Christians must remember that Jesus wasn’t that popular, that he promoted powerlessness, and that he was frustratingly inefficient. In fact, He was sacrificial, humble, giving, and forgiving — not exactly valued character attributes in today’s society.
Divisible, With Liberty and Justice for Some
Please don’t fail to recognize this vital moment in American history: when our fellow citizens screamed for equality, marched for recognition, and pleaded for justice. Because someday the next generation will ask us: What did you do?
And so today we must ask ourselves: What are we doing? What are we seeing? What does this all mean?
Because the last few years within our country — a continuation of the past hundreds of years — have been socially jarring for a society that considers itself a modernized, technologically advanced, and morally superior nation
5 Reminders That Justice Work Matters
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” —Matthew 25:40
Working for justice can seem frustrating, hopeless, and insignificant. Despite our work, volunteerism, financial donations, and advocacy, it’s easy to succumb to burnout. Most will never personally meet the people they’re trying to help or witness any obvious changes. They will face the constant cynicism of a seemingly uncaring and apathetic society. But here are five reasons why doing social justice work really matters: