The Hayes Barton Biblical Justice Action Team has been created to help us fulfill our Christian calling to justice, righteousness and mercy.
The board is called to define how our church will seek the implementation of the Social Principles of the UMC and other policy statements of the General Conference on Christian social concerns. According to Chris Marshall’s book, The Little Book of Biblical Justice, the various words for justice occur over 1000 times in the Bible (Marshall, page 11). Justice comes from God and it is our responsibility to reflect God’s justice and mercy in our actions. Why then is it not something we are striving for daily? Often times people believe that activism and the church should not mix...it is too ‘political.’ But in order to live out God’s vision for shalom (peace and mutual prosperity), we must question and confront structures and powers in place that are set up to exploit and oppress others.
Our Biblical Justice Action Team will take issues that the conference is already addressing and determine how Hayes Barton can address them on a local level. We will consciously make the effort to assure our actions are Biblically motivated, not politically convenient. God’s liberation of the Israelites from Egypt and the promise for their oppressed community shows that God’s justice is a “liberating, community-creating power that intervenes in oppressive situations to restore freedom and shalom” (Marshall, 49). Being created in the image of God, we are expected, as Christians, to emulate that same justice within our own community.
What is Biblical justice?
Justice is “doing all that is necessary to create and sustain healthy, constant, and life-giving relationships” amongst ALL people (36). Biblical justice tries to restore honor and autonomy to those who have been wrongfully deprived of access to sufficient resources in order to meet their own basic needs for physical survival and human fulfillment (48). Biblical justice requires humble and honest actions to correct systemic oppression. It is a commitment “to execute justice in the morning, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor anyone who has been robbed” (Jeremiah 21:12).
What is the difference between justice and mercy?
Mercy is an act to help others. Mercy acts are healing, feeding, clothing, and caring for the immediate needs of the community. It is a form of outreach.
Justice is getting to the root of the problem and trying to solve it. It is speaking for those who have no voice. We will become trained in writing letters to local and state officials. We will gather information to confront policies that prevent opportunity for those in need. We will educate the congregation on how they might get involved.
Is “justice” for me?
We recognize that everyone is at a different stage in their faith and in their actions. Some people are beginning to put faith into action and others have been doing it for years. There is a place for everyone within our Biblical Justice Action Team. You might start by reading a book from our book list. You might get involved with a subcommittee that is trying to change or create a law or policy that is oppressive or unfair. You might join us in a rally, protest, or prayer walk. You might start a petition or simply sign one. There is a place for you to begin your journey in creating shalom on Earth as God wishes.
We believe that humble reflection and dialogue are necessary, that indifference is one way that sin gets a foothold in our world, that denial of inequity perpetuates unfair subjection.
In Isaiah 59:12-17, “God is outraged not only at the existence of injustice, but at the failure of anyone to do anything about it.” The General Board of Church and Society is dedicated to the work of living faith, seeking justice, and pursuing peace, as will be the case for the Biblical Justice Action Team at Hayes Barton UMC.
relating the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Church, communities, and the world in which they live,
bringing the whole of human life into conformity with the will of God,
and showing that reconciliation involves personal, social and civic righteousness.
Addressing more than 30 social issues on which The United Methodist Church has claimed a position, Church and Society communicates with policymakers and leaders around the world with the mission of transforming the world.
The first two of the General Rules by John Wesley were to ‘do no harm’ and to ‘do as much good as you can.’