A few weeks ago, I was asked in a podcast interview about the “social justice work Citygate Network members are doing.” In times gone by, I would have ignored the host’s choice of terms and answered the question by describing the emergency services, addiction recovery, and follow-up work our members were undertaking with their guests and clients. But times have changed. The term “social justice” has been kidnapped. It now wears the cloaks of many causes, some of which are held high by various religious groups, but are not necessarily aligned with principles, practices, and precepts of Citygate Network. I took the time on the air to make a few clarifying remarks.
I told the host that I felt social justice is outward facing. It wants to know who is to blame for the disparity—either directly, indirectly, or by association. Social justice spends just as much time seeking out villains to punish as it does seeking victims to help. When it identifies the offenders, it goes on a crusade for retribution, which can include redistribution. Fairness in such plans is always subjective, and that brings greater division.
In my exchange with the podcast host, I suggested that the alternative to social justice is biblical justice. This looks inward. Biblical justice begs every individual to ask this question: “Am I partly to blame?” Are my attitudes rooted in sin and making the problem worse in my areas of influence, or are they making things better for everyone around me? Biblical justice mirrors the heart of David, who cried out in Psalm 139, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting” (King James Version).
That is the attitude that I believe needs to exist in all Citygate Network organizations. It doesn’t turn a blind eye toward the obvious inequities happening nationally or internationally. It speaks to the issues when it’s appropriate, but it works on the home front first. It comes to terms with the condition of the heart.
Very few of our members know that Citygate Network has had a Racial and Spiritual Unity Cohort meeting together monthly for more than a year. Pastor Robert Loggins helps lead this. It is made up of an equally racially mixed group of CEOs. They are studying together and praying together. They have goals (one of which resulted in an additional statement in our corporate values). But they are seeking first to understand—each other and themselves. We’ll talk about this more in the days to come. In the meantime, may I be so bold as to ask: How are you doing with your coming-to-terms efforts?