In Acts 2, we get a picture of the early church sharing everything in common and paying close attention to the needs of those around them. The Scripture says that their generous and grateful attitudes were noticed by the people around them, who had favor with them. This picture of a just society was infectious, and people noticed the beautiful shalom that was present in this community to the extent that the Lord added to their number day by day.
In the same way, when Peter and John heal the lame man in Acts 3, they are doing justice to a man who, because of his health, has been forgotten by his society and has not been allowed to work, have a family, or be a part of society. This act of justice had a ripple effect as we are told that those who witnessed the transformation in this man’s life, both physical and spiritual, were filled with wonder and amazement, probably asking themselves, “Who is this God who heals the oppressed and restores joy?”
Within the Christian community, heavy emphasis is placed on preaching the gospel, leading Bible studies, or evangelizing non-believing friends. We can tend to think of the work of justice as secondary or an add-on. But the Bible makes it clear that evangelism can be carried out through the work of justice. When we respond to the deep needs of others, we are demonstrating to them that God is good and loving. We should seek to do the work of God as Jesus did, seeing justice and evangelism as complementary to one another. As God’s “hands and feet,” the church is continuing the work of justice that Jesus started.
Nikki A. Toyama-Szeto is senior director of biblical justice integration and mobilization at International Justice Mission (IJM). She previously served as program director for InterVarsity’s Urbana Student Missions Conference. Abraham George is director of international church mobilization at IJM. Before joining IJM, Abraham was a pastor and a theology lecturer in India. They are the coauthors of God of Justice. Taken from God of Justice by Abraham George and Nikki A. Toyama-Szeto. Copyright © 2015 International Justice Mission. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515, USA. www.ivpress.com.
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