Social Justice is a Matter of the Heart

Mac’s Speed Shop. I love that place. Some of my fondest memories are of being with my family at Mac’s when I was home visiting, when I lived overseas. It was and remains our family’s ‘place’. When my sister is visiting, we go there.  When we just want to hang out, we go there.  I always order the same thing….a four-car side item [that I can never finish because it’s too much food.] I’ve had lots of conversations there. Some filled with laughs. Some filled with sadness. And some filled with more serious discussions about what is going on in our nation, state, city and all around us.

A few weeks ago, I was having lunch at Mac’s with a friend, who just happens to be one of the pastors at my church. We had a conversation that was filled with ALL of those things. We laughed lots, but we also talked serious. And our serious talk focused nearly exclusively on the lack of integration in Charlotte and the presence of extreme poverty and unmet need. We talked about issues ranging from the role of the church, the duplication of efforts by some non-profits, the amazing work of some non-profits, the role of business, etc. No issue was off the table.

I pride myself on being knowledgeable about the issues affecting our city, such as the lack of upward mobility, lack of equity, lack of integration, etc.  As I’ve mentioned before, I am a graduate of Leadership Charlotte…..a program that gave me a backstage pass to our city….. and I’ve had lots of experiences to learn about social justice issues……so I thought I knew it all. [Social Justice: ‘is a concept of fair and just relations between the individual and society. This is measured by the explicit and tacit terms for the distribution of wealth, opportunities for personal activity, and social privileges. In the current global grassroots movements for social justice, the emphasis has been on the breaking of barriers for social mobility, the creation of safety nets and economic justice.’ I just lifted all of that from Wikipedia….see the link for more.]

But that day…. at lunch at Mac’s…. my friend said something that I hadn’t considered and it has stuck with me since: Social Justice is a Matter of the Heart.

As soon as he said it, I knew what he meant and I totally agree with him.  However, I haven’t quite figured out how to articulate what I knew in my own heart as soon as he said it. [If you have some thoughts on this, please comment!] Here’s my attempt:

Social justice is the implementation of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).  All of it. Not just some of it.  All of it.  And all of those things are a matter of the heart.

It’s about implementing the fruit of the Spirit with every.single.person we encounter, no matter who they are. And, it’s about implementing the fruit of the Spirit in life….such as in business transactions, in policy-making, in the pricing of goods and services, in schools, etc.

If we want true ‘social justice’ we need to examine our hearts.

Why is it that we live in a society where we are constantly having to talk about social justice? Inequities.  Ultimately it comes down to ‘original sin’…..and, as my dad has told me many times (especially when I was a teenager), ‘life isn’t fair’. I get that, but if we examine our hearts and operate in the fruit of the Spirit, I imagine we would move towards greater equity in our society.

Achieving complete social justice is a stretch goal….. but we can get there. I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit. And, we will see it when Jesus returns.  I look forward to that day….but until He comes back….I’ll examine my own heart….and ask for the power of the Holy Spirit to open the hearts of others so that we can achieve real social justice for ALL of God’s children.

 

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