Whatever issue you feel called to address, just know it's a hard road to walk, but it's also a journey filled with great purpose and meaning, Randall says. (Image courtesy of winnond / FreeDigtitalPhotos.net)
Powerful systems seem to be chipping away at those most vulnerable in the world.
The Apostle Paul encourages the Christians of Ephesus to combat "rulers, authorities and cosmic powers of this present darkness" (Ephesians 6:12).
To do so, he challenges them to stand firm with a "belt of truth" and "breastplate of righteousness" tightly secured to their conscience (Ephesians 6:14).
Theologian Walter Wink suggests these "rulers, authorities and cosmic powers" are a construct of powerful earthly systems that marginalize, suppress and isolate those without power. In other words, the poor, the sick and the least of these.
If Wink's interpretation is correct, then Christians around the world should take Paul's call for engagement seriously.
While the apostle uses military-like jargon to make his point, he makes it clear his objective is not domination of culture but lasting peace for those outside of power.
The Greek word used by Paul is "eiréné," meaning "peace of mind and wholeness." The same can be said for its Hebrew equivalent, "shalom."
Therefore, the objective of Christians seeking social justice should always be about bringing about healing and wholeness to broken systems.
As 2018 is underway, Christians are thinking about and seeking ways they can engage in the pursuit of justice in both local and global contexts.
From climate change to unjust taxation, Christians are waking up to the realization that the cosmic powers of darkness are working against the very people Jesus came to liberate and empower (Luke 4:18-19).
The time for goodwill Christians to stand firm is now.
Thus, let me offer these suggestions as Christians engage in social justice for 2018:
1. Pray often
Before we engage the physical, we must spiritually prepare. Prayer provides us with the opportunity to listen to God's voice and seek God's instructions for peace.
2. Study Scripture
God's word remains the authority for our spiritual practices. Understanding the narrative of God means understanding divine intervention for the powerless.
3. Be bold
When Paul says "stand firm," he is encouraging his readers to remain steadfast in their resolve. Remember, God does not call the qualified but qualifies the called. Christians must lean into God's power and plans.
4. Be patient
Engaging cosmic powers means transformation will not take place quickly. It takes time. Jesus' ministry took three years to combat the powerful, while most of us today want to change the world with one tweet. Patient diligence is a powerful tool.
5. Stay focused
It's easy to get sidetracked when engaging with specific issues. However, those able to remain focused on the essential priorities can make the most significant impact.
Opponents of social transformation are skilled at diversion and manipulations, so stay crystal clear about issues and solutions.
6. Educate to empower
Thoroughly educating oneself on the problems will be essential to bringing about healing and wholeness.
Read credible resources, both sacred and secular. Make sure your information is reliable and factual. Snopes.com is an excellent website to cross-reference. The last thing anyone needs in building an argument is faulty information.
There are many other suggestions for Christians seeking to be involved in social justice for 2018 (you can provide your recommendations in the comments section of our Facebook page), but these few will assist anyone called to engagement.
Whatever issue you feel called to address, just know it's a hard road to walk, but it's also a journey filled with great purpose and meaning.
May God be with you each step of your social justice journey in 2018; and if Baptist Center for Ethics can help in any way, contact us at email@example.com.
Now, lace up your shoes and get walking!
Mitch Randall is executive director of BCE and executive editor of EthicsDaily.com. You can follow him on Twitter @rmitchrandall.