This sermon is part of the sermon series "Project Hazmat: Handling Today's Tough Topics". See series.
The Story Behind the Sermon (by Bill Haley)
Why is it important to preach on social justice?
It's important to preach on social justice for the simplest of reasons: it's an important and prevalent theme in the Bible. It's almost as simple as "It matters in the Bible, therefore it matters in our preaching." That's justification enough as we want to be faithful to "the whole counsel of God." I would also add that, not only is it a prominent biblical theme with many verses about justice, but also the ramifications of not heeding God's call to justice are significant and quite sobering. So there's a profound pastoral obligation to speak on this.
What were you trying to accomplish in this sermon (and series of sermons) on justice?
We had had many "outreach" sermons and series that emphasized evangelism and personal witness, and we wanted to provide some balance to the message about how we reach out with God's love, that it of course is about our words, and also about our deeds. And like so many other times we try to bring to light other aspects God's heart, we wanted to spend some time on this part of God's heart which hasn't gotten as much air time in many churches. It was important that this wasn't just a one-off sermon.
What are some of the dangers/pitfalls/landmines about preaching on social justice?
One danger is to be unnecessarily political or partisan. Preaching this especially in the Washington D.C. area, it's too easy to alienate a lot of people by equating one party's platform with a biblical position. It's better to be crystal clear on the general principles described in Scripture, and leave policy implications for a different venue.
Is there anything you would do differently?
I was trying to accomplish an awful lot ...
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