Eugene Cho

social justice matters because the gospel matters

Social justice.

Those two words – depending on the circles you  roll with – are either really bad news or really good news.

But for the latter, it’s not truly the good news.

But if you truly believe in the good news … as in the Gospel

If you truly believe in the Gospel, then you have to believe that it matters not just for your personal salvation and blessings but God’s pursuit of restoration, redemption, and reconciliation for the entire world.

I believe in this Gospel.

I live for this Gospel.

And while folks may disagree on the meaning, context, and agenda behind the vernacular or verbiage of such words as social justice…

Christians ought to agree in the Gospel that is revealed to us in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

  • a Gospel that not only saves but also serves
  • a Gospel that not only saves but seeks to restore all things back unto the One that ushered forth all that is good and beautiful
  • a Gospel that not only saves but ushers in the Kingdom of God
  • a Gospel that not only saves but restores the dignity of human beauty – even in the midst of our brokenness and depravity.

This Gospel is not just for us. It is good news for all

– especially the least, the marginalized, the poor, the forgotten, the forsaken, the alone…

How can we not believe in this kind of Gospel…when this Gospel has been extended unto us?

Truly, the Gospel saves…but thankfully, it does more than save. The Gospel not only saves, but invites us to a life that God intended for us and in that pursuit, God desires for us to

love mercy, seek justice, and walk humbly.

One of the things that’s giving me great joy and vitality in this current season of my life  is our church’s commitment to bumbling and stumbling our way in living out the Gospel.

Mind you, it hasn’t been easy but it’s been a culture – rooted in the Scriptures and the Gospel of Christ – that we’ve sought to incubate and incarnate from the beginning of our church.

During the month of November, we challenged and invited the church to help us raise $50,000 over two Sundays to fund the vision of our church’s Justice & Compassion Care Center. The pastors and elders were so humbled and amazed by our church as we collectively gave $70,105.24.

Part of those funds was allocated to hire a Homeless Advocate & Case Manager to work with our Justice and Compassion Pastor and to identify an office space (outside of our small building space) and closer to the main streets of our larger neighborhood.

Something pretty crazy happened: A 2500 square feet office space was extended to us – for free – and to use for the purposes of living out our faith.

the gospel matters…

And so, we begin this week with the mini-renovation process of making the office spaces our own as we get ready to celebrate the open house of the Quest Justice & Compassion Center on the last Sunday of January.

If there are some encouragement I can extend to my readers, fellow pastors, and leaders:

  1. build the culture of biblical justice and compassion. and remember, it takes time
  2. cast the vision again and again – and again.
  3. don’t underestimate yourself, your leaders or your church – especially if you’re a small/medium sized church.
  4. loving your neighbors often means serving your neighborhood.
  5. don’t give up.

Regarding #5, the work of justice and compassion is well…in the long run…not very attractive or dare I say, “sexy.” For example, advocacy for the homeless or housing challenged community is a struggle and if we’re honest, it’s the blog post no one wants to read.

But…the gospel matters.

Update: Here’s an update of the Bridge Care Center (about 9 months post launching) and video:

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17 Responses

  1. Annie M says:

    This is so exciting!

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Eugene Cho, Ben S and others. Ben S said: "How can we not believe in this kind of Gospel…when this Gospel has been extended unto us?" @EugeneCho http://tinyurl.com/2wlrx58 […]

  3. […] because the gospel matters « eugene cho […]

  4. […] Like everyone else I saw the videos and news stories tracing Ted Williams’ meteoric rise to fame. I hadn’t planned on writing about it however, until I read a huffingtonpost.com post by Eugene Cho. I quote: “Stories of redemption & encountering God never grow old. They are the most beautiful stories. We are created in the image of God. We are loved by God. This — in essence — is the definition of human dignity. Indeed, the Gospel matters …“ […]

  5. Jason says:

    Awesome….you guys are an inspiration….

  6. […] Social justice. Those two words – depending on the circles you  roll with – are either really bad news or really good news. But for the latter, it's not truly the good news. But if you truly believe in the good news … as in the Gospel… If you truly believe in the Gospel, then you have to believe that it matters not just for your personal salvation and blessings but God's pursuit of restoration, redemption, and reconciliation for the entire wo … Read More […]

  7. Indeed an inspiration to us all. Never would social justice be negative on the eyes of the people with a pure heart.

  8. […] While it’s true that it’s often the blogpost no one wants to read, it has to matter if the Gospel truly matters. […]

  9. […] The Holy Spirit will convict and change. May our lives simply testify and point to the truth and gospel of Christ. […]

  10. […] Thank you for not only loving Jesus but for living in a way that demonstrates that the Gospel matters… […]

  11. […] The Holy Spirit will convict and change. May our lives simply testify and point to the truth and gospel of Christ. […]

  12. […] Wow. Amazing. Makes me wonder if we truly believe in the Gospel? […]

  13. […] Wow. Amazing. Makes me wonder if we truly believe in the Gospel? […]

  14. […] Cho also tackles this subject on his blog today with this intro, “Today is World Day of Social Justice. Those two words, “Social […]

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One Day’s Wages

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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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