By Rich Peterson
I am finding it more difficult these days to locate Christ-followers who are maintaining the “balance” between our Christian call of individual righteousness and corporate transformation. For followers of Jesus, this dual calling can never become as one-sided as it appears to have become over the last number of years for a great many Christians (perhaps especially in the United States).
The Bible tells us that God “rules the world in righteousness and judges the peoples with equity” (Ps. 9:8). The Scriptures also tell us that “righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne” (Ps. 89:14). When we take these two passages seriously, it means that we understand God to be calling us to lives and lifestyles that are focused on BOTH individual righteousness and corporate justice.
Individual righteousness means that we are rightly concerned with our faith development, seeing clearly that the Gospel is the narrow way, that believing correctly is paramount in our following Jesus. Individual righteousness focuses our attention on Jesus as God and on our personal choices; it speaks to our guilt and to our personal responsibilities. Individual righteousness is often talked about in terms associated with “right wing” and may even be strongly voiced as fundamentalism.
When the Bible speaks of Individual righteousness, we are hearing the truth that God “will judge the world in righteousness”.
Corporate justice means that we take seriously our works for the kingdom, the fact that the Gospel is for the whole life, and that we as God’s people are called to live our lives justly. Corporate justice focuses our attention on Jesus as Man and helps us focus on societal systems. It takes seriously the guilt and responsibility of people groups. Corporate justice is often talked about in terms considered “left wing” and may even be strongly voiced as liberalism or social justice.
When the Bible speaks of corporate justice, we are hearing the truth that God “will govern the peoples with justice”.
Our call as Christ-followers is not only to individual righteousness or to only corporate justice, our call as Jesus-followers is to both individual righteousness and to corporate justice.
The current issue appears to me to be that a great many Christians see clearly one-side of their calling and not the other. That is, Christians are serious about their individual righteousness (seeking to live a life which is pure, moral, upstanding, holy, etc.), but appear blind to the equal call to be “salt and light” in their culture to bring justice where there is injustice (mercy, compassion, care for the underserved and disadvantaged).
From my perspective we need to discern the issues of our day from a “third vantagepoint.” Christ-followers need to discover the biblical way forward which calls us not to one or the other, but both – individual righteousness and corporate justice.
From my perspective we need to discover (or rediscover) our voice as “prophets” continually speaking the truth of God’s word and His revealed will. This may mean that like every prophet we are sometimes seen as leaning “right,” and at other times we are seen as leaning “left.”
Our call is to live in the tension and to lean into the balance of both individual righteousness and corporate justice.
Ours is the difficult call to follow Jesus into the transformation of our own lives (individual righteousness) and the transformation of our society (corporate justice).
Why? Because we follow the One, True God who “will judge the world in righteousness and govern the peoples with justice.”
How did this devotional encourage or challenge you? Copy and paste the link to this blog to your social media with an answer. Or you can click to put your answer in the group here, or in the comments below.
- Until Jesus Shows Up (click here)
- Authenticity in Barbie Land (click here)
- A Prayer To Our Holy Father (click here)
- Celebrate Our Great God (click here)
- Hit The Pause Button and Celebrate (click here)
- Jesus and Solitude (download here)
- The Practice of Solitude (click here)
- Justin Long: Equipping Leaders For The Great Commission
- A Refugee Story: Jackline and Fouad
- An Interview With Dan Scribner of Joshua Project
- Talk to someone about serving overseas, click here.
- Give to Send and Sustain