3.22.15 BOOK REVIEW: “Gospel Justice” by Bruce D. Strom

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January 2014 I set a personal goal to read one book per month and I have enjoyed keeping that goal into 2015. Much of what I’ve been reading has been surrounding community development, global missions, and social justice. Within my work in Community Transformation with New Mission Systems International as well as my advocacy roles with ChildFund International, I always attempt to remain informed on current topics, strategies, programs, projects and resources. As I told my friend recently, I not only want to be an advocate for the poor, I also want to be a participant in the solution of breaking the cycle of poverty!

Following my book review of Ken Wytsma’s new book “The Grand Paradox”, the CEO of Gospel Justice InitiativeBruce D. Strom, contacted me about reviewing his book “Gospel Justice”*. As I began to read the opening chapter, I quickly realized that this book was written through the lens of legal justice for the oppressed. Whereas I have always felt that the legal process is necessary in restoring justice for the poor, I have never spent a lot of time understanding the value that lawyers can play in social justice work. I committed to staying engaged with the text, and I’m glad I did! Bruce combines personal testimonies, lots of Scripture, and in-depth commentary to explore not only lawyers roles in restoring justice, but also The Church’s role.
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Starting with the forward by Dr. Tony Evans, we are reminded that;

“The second most talked about subject in Scripture, after money, is the poor.” (Pg. 9)

As Bruce dives into the story of the good samaritan, he references Matthew 25 and voices a strong theological stance when he says;

“He would gather all people to Him and separate them as sheep from goats. The dividing line was not a sinner’s prayer. The dividing line was belief demonstrated in action as one showed justice, mercy, and compassion to the least of these.” (Pg. 32)

Bruce goes on to say;

“In Matthew 15, when Jesus provided bread for the four thousand, He did not give it on the condition that they believed He was the Messiah and the Bread of Life. Many rejected His message. If that is true of Jesus, then certainly it will be true for us, as we follow His example in meeting practical needs while providing lasting hope to all: Muslims and Hindus, Asians and Africans, documented and undocumented, skeptics and backsliders.” (Pg. 103)

I get asked this question all the time: “As you work for the poor, you are serving just the Christians, right?”

WRONG.

Did Jesus touch just the healthy? Did Jesus eat with only the righteous? Did Jesus die exclusively for the saved?

NO! He healed the sick (and touched them!), he dined with sinners, and he died for the lost. Then, He asked us to “go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37b)

“Charity is good, but justice seeks more. Justice seeks to educate, empower, and root out structures that contribute toward injustice.” (Pg. 128)

In Chapter seven, we hear a story about Juan, a worker who had not been paid after spending 17 long hours of labor.

“Juan was too afraid to speak with authorities, and they may not have listened, but with an advocate, several injustices were righted.” (Pg. 131)

Too often, we minimize the role of advocacy within our work of building God’s Kingdom, however, without a voice, the poor, the oppressed, and the abandoned will never be heard! That is what fuels my work as a Global Missions and Social Justice Advocate as I travel the U.S. this year with CARMAN and THE BIBLE TOUR.

Throughout “Gospel Justice”, Bruce references the story of the good Samaritan.

“The Samaritan in Luke 10 could not care for the wounded man alone. He needed a place where the wounded would be cared for. A place where healing could begin. A place of warmth. A place of sustenance. He took him to the inn. Today that place should be the church. No organization on earth can or should replace the church.” (Pg. 142)

This reminds me of a quote by Pastor Tim Keller in “Generous Justice”, when he says,

“Evangelism should go hand in hand with acts of justice and mercy.” (Pg. 145)

Don’t agree? Look at the life of Jesus.

“Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.” – 1 John 2:6 (NLT)

If you’re looking for a book full of HOPE, specifically within a world of injustice, then pickup a copy of Bruce D. Strom’s Gospel Justice”. 

For the least of these,

Jeremy Willet

*I received a free copy of “Gospel Justice” from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review of the book, and I do not receive any compensation from you reading this review or pre-orders / purchases of the book in any way. In my role as Worship and Community Transformation Coordinator for New Mission Systems International, I attempt to keep my eye out for new resources, books and publications in regards to justice, missions, and poverty. I was thankful for the free copy of this book, and I hope this review shows you how I was inspired by Bruce’s story and work on behalf of the Gospel.

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