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Jesus challenges priorities

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Books-On-justiceJesus on Justice: Living Lives of Compassion and Conviction

Don Posterksi 

World Vision

Is one’s spiritual health separate from the overall well-being of society? Can a Christian interact with civil society while maintaining a commitment to dynamic discipleship to Jesus? Answering these questions, Jesus on Justice is a great introduction to the many aspects of social justice in the 21st century.

With a clear dedication to applying Jesus’ teachings, author Don Posterski carefully articulates the importance of loving God and loving our neighbour.

With service experience at World Vision and McMaster Divinity College, Posterski’s chief goal is to show how the Bible portrays Jesus as an advocate of justice. He outlines four key ways Jesus does this: he includes the excluded, challenges cultural practices, confronts the powerful, and advocates for the oppressed.

Jesus announced that this type of justice work was at the core of his mission when he read from Isaiah in a Nazareth synagogue (Luke 4:14–21). His good news is for the poor, the sick, and the oppressed. In a world where the political leaders argue over whether or not to help the sick, Christians have been mandated to treat others with love.

All of Posterski’s arguments come directly from the four Gospels. He doesn’t make a show of establishing a complex theology drawing from obscure texts with hermeneutical gymnastics. He simply lets the actions and words of Jesus call us to living as he did.

A framework for following

Some theological traditions shy away from any notions of social justice, arguing that any tangible outworking of Christian faith is a demonstration of “salvation by works.” Such an argument does not stand up against the simple concepts of following Jesus as outlined here.

There is no mention of salvation in the book, as it assumes that its readers are already dedicated followers of Christ. It simply provides a framework through which to think about social justice as Jesus did.

Fortunately, this thinking is already well supported in Anabaptist theology. However, we might question if we have strayed from our theological traditions. What will a look at church budgets indicate about our community’s spending on social justice initiatives? Though we maintain a commitment to preaching the gospel, perhaps this book has a critique for the Mennonite Brethren church.

Variety of materials

One of the strongest parts of the book is the wide variety of materials Posterski provides. Included in each chapter is a pair of prayers: one that focuses on local concerns, and one that pushes the reader to think about the larger consequences of our social environment. The book also has several stimulating full-page photos that capture the imagination and draw our attention to the social conditions of others. Finally, the book provides space for notes, and even has suggestions for discussion questions.

Jesus on Justice is well suited for a youth study group. The simple layout is adaptable to a series of lessons that clearly communicate Jesus’ concerns for the least of these. Furthermore, it provides practical examples of how Christians can live out their faith in ways that clearly witness to the transforming power of the gospel.

Overall, Jesus on Justice offers a foundational perspective on the pressing issues our world is facing today. We are privileged to live in a country that protects the rights of individuals, makes provisions for religious freedoms, and even budgets at a federal level to support initiatives such as the work done by Mennonite Central Committee. Perhaps it’s time we stepped up to the plate to advocate for social justice in our communities.

Feeling lost? Lacking creativity? Check out Jesus on Justice.

—Mark Tymm is a member of Sardis Community Church in Chilliwack, B.C., an Anabaptist of Northern Irish/Canadian descent, a musician and graduate of Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, B.C., currently interning with the MCC Ottawa office.

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