Generous Justice, class #7
Justice in the Sermon on the Mount and in the Early Church
From Chapt. 3. Pg. 54b-6
Keller notes the inclination of individuals and institutions to be concerned with either personal morality or social justice, but usually not both. God, on the other hand, joins the two equally. When this balance is taught and practiced, Keller describes it with the phrase “whole cloth”.
In his Sermon on the Mount Jesus preached personal
morality. He called for repentance for the hatred that leads to violence, the
lust that leads to sexual sin, and the dishonesty that leads to lies (Mt. 5).
But the same sermon…
*calls to give to the poor, Mt. 6:1-4
*rebukes materialism and selfishness, Mt. 6:19-24
Keller notes that this whole cloth preaching of Jesus echoes the same balance in the prophets as in Amos 2:7 (injustice to the poor and sexual sins) and Is. 5:8-11 (material hoarding and drunken revelry). (Pg. 54-55).
For illustration, Keller relates a great story about an oppressed worker who was put off when the sermons he heard at church addressed his moral sins, but not his oppressive boss’s sins of injustice. (Pg. 55-56).
The early church showed a concern for social justice
issues from the beginning.
*Acts 4:34-35 (cf. Acts 15:4, not a poor or needy person among them).
*6:1-7 Throughout his book, Keller seems to be assuming that “deacons” were called for the purpose of the church’s caring for the poor. (Pg. 56b-60).
There are three God ordained responsibilities for the
care of the needy:
*Family cares for needy family (1 Tim. 5:8)
*Church cares for the household of faith (Gal. 6:10)
*Church (individually and corporate) do good to all. (Gal. 6:10).