The fifth great end of the church is “The Promotion of Social Righteousness.” In many ways, this might be the hardest to do of all the ones that we have talked about to this point. A lot of what we have talked about can be done without getting our hands dirty (figuratively and literally). While there are challenges in all of the Great Ends we have discussed so far, this next one may push us in ways we might not be entirely comfortable with.
This end of the church pushes us to move far beyond the walls of the church. It pushes us to move out of our comfort zones to the people who are in the greatest need in our world. In the Scriptures, these were often referred to as the widows, the orphans, and the poor. These three groups were those who did not have networks of help, governmental assistance, or community organizing groups. They were the ones who were in the greatest need. And it is no wonder that they are the ones that Jesus spent the most time with and those who he lifted up time after time. There were few words of rebuke to them, unlike his rebukes to the rich or the powerful or the proud.
Widows, orphans, and the poor continue to be with us today, but there are different names today. Who are the widows, orphans, and the poor of today? Who are those who are the voiceless, the neglected, the ignored, and the avoided? How are we as a community of faith helping to bring about God’s vision of justice – a vision talked about in Amos 5:24:
…let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream.
A flood of justice rushing over the land and turning into a river that runs and runs and runs and nourishes the nations…nourishes all people.