Social Justice has been both overlooked and misrepresented within American church culture. I am not talking about an equal distribution of wealth concept, but rather seeing the heart of the church return to it's roots and understand what it means to be a member of the Body of Christ as recorded in Acts. This account in Acts is clear that is was the mission of the church to look after each other and share ones possessions, meet each others needs to the extent that scripture records no one among them had a need. How beautiful would it be to see this form of justice practiced within the walls of every American church!
If that account is not enough then I would encourage a thorough read of Isaiah 58. The heart of the Lord is that we loose the chains of injustice, untie the cords of the yoke, share our food with the hungry, provide the poor wanderer with shelter, clothe the naked, and not turn away from our own flesh and blood. I am convinced that this account of scripture was not just intended for the people during Isaiah's time but ours today. Yet, when we look at our current culture we see all kinds of social programs in our government, yet very few within the four walls of the church. Something is wrong with this picture. It was never intended that government be a stabilizing force but rather the body of Christ who should bear one another's burdens.
In order to remain culturally relevant the church will have to step outside it's four walls and reach into the heart of the community. We must become comfortable being uncomfortable. We must become informed and educated about new ways to meet the needs of our ever changing culture. Concerts of Hope Inc has the mission to reach out and take our message to the people who are hurting. But not only them, but to take our message to the streets and educate our current culture and help the church become culturally relevant. The needs of people with mental illness have been long mistrusted and overlooked. Education is necessary and tools for service are essential. Persons with mental illness deserve respect and dignity as do all of us. But suffering individuals need relief and representation. They need opportunity and hope. Sometimes they need a hand up (not a hand out) and someone who has an ear to hear their pain. The churches of our communities need to equipped with information and tools to meet the needs to those with mental illness. And we need to extend a hand of benevolence as well as an ear to hear the suffering cries of those with brain diseases. It has been far too long that we have isolated and segregated these people. It has been far too long that we have misjudged and misrepresented their pain. Suffering is real, and the Bible is full of stories of suffering which produces a great harvest of righteousness if allowed to work for good. But, it is urgent that the church understand the reality of mental illness or brain diseases. It is urgent that we quit making excuses for not extending the arm of compassion to these folks. It is urgent that we create avenues for service and ministry. It is urgent that we get a clear perspective and recognize that such illnesses are simply the result of a lack of necessary brain chemicals. (for reference read Blue Genes by Dr. Paul Meier) It is urgent that we become channels of healing and hope! By so doing, we will loose the chains of injustice and set captives free!