You Who: A Book Review

The following is a guest post by my lovely wife, Emily Secord.


Who am I? This question dominates much of our modern thinking, especially as women. Countless idols claim to answer this question by turning within the self. We are offered the path to true happiness through looking inside of ourselves. The problem is we always come back from this search dissatisfied and we are still left with this unquenchable thirst. So we continue to look for meaning within, and that’s exactly the problem. We cannot satisfy ourselves because we are limited, created beings. We need something bigger and greater than ourselves.  Christianity stands opposed to the idea of finding ultimate joy in our self-identity or through self-actualization. The Bible reminds us we were created by God and for God. Rachel Jankovic addresses how we got so off track and how the gospel offers hope in her book You Who: Why You Matter & How to Deal With It.

 Her book is full of biblical wisdom like this:

Samuel Rutherford penned this gem: ‘Your heart is not the compass Christ Saileth by.’ What a glorious thought that is! Christ is not subject to the insights or the whims of our hearts. And while we might feel that our hearts produce nothing but the most valuable insights, Rutherford might say, ‘Christ regardeth them not.’

  This is the life-giving truths found in this book. We are ceaselessly told to follow our hearts, and we need to discover the true essence of ourselves, and then we will be happy! It is only through this secret knowledge that we will reach our full potential and become truly happy. Rachel Jankovic excellently navigates the historical reasoning of why our culture is the way it is. In a simple yet profound way, she explains why our culture believes so many lies.

 She weaves in examples and metaphors to show how we’ve gotten to where we are and how the gospel counters these lies.  Jankovic reminds us that while our culture preaches selfishness what we really need is to die to ourselves by living for the glory of God! She writes, “My need to know me gets swallowed up in the glory of the one who made me- the one who holds me in his hand. If you would know yourself, seek your God. Know your God, and you will know yourself. Live to his glory, and you will be living fully to your own potential. Live for his glory, and he will lift up your head.” This is a much-needed reminder; we are to live for God’s glory. Our best life isn’t now. Our lives are not about becoming the best me or washing my face.  Life is found in losing it in and for Christ. Jankovic basically asks us, “What if my life isn’t actually about me at all but is actually about a glorious God who is worth our worship regardless of our circumstances?”  

 I would recommend all women read this book (available now in the church library). Rachel beautifully corrects our culture’s call for people to seek themselves in themselves and offers the Christian response. She explains things in a simple yet profound way and encourages women to about our world through a biblical worldview. New and old in the faith would all benefit from reading this book. This both will bot challenge and encourage Christian women to live for the glory of God and the joy of his people! Then and only then will find true life.

Emily J. Secord

Racial Reconciliation: How Our Double-Unity Brings Healing


In my last post, I discussed the problems in the racial reconciliation movement and how those problems actually prevent reconciliation. The growing divisions within evangelicalism over this issue and the whole paradigm of social justice are truly alarming. It is not my desire to further such divisions, but to point Christ’s church to the objective unity the cross achieved on our behalf. I know this is the desire of many on both sides of the issue, yet we seem unable to find that unity. Christians need to wrestle with these difficult issues through the biblical worldview, but we must do so with grace and humility. It would be a real shame if evangelicalism splits over this issue.

Having said all of this, I must reiterate that we should not gloss over our differences in this disagreement. They are real, and they are important. Yet these differences should not trump what we have in common—an objective unity in Christ. This needs to be where we start, go, and end all of these discussions. With that ethic, we should zealously pursue the truth.

In pursuing this truth, we must call sin out for what it is: evil. Racism, that is treating other groups of people as less than human, is a sin because it violates the second great command to love your neighbor as yourself. Racism, that is selfish pride in one’s own ethnicity, is a sin because pride is evil. Such thoughts and the actions they inspire are evil. These thoughts and actions are immoral whether they come from the majority group directed to minorities, or if they come from the minorities directed toward the majority group. I have seen both. Pride, hatred, and bitterness are sins no matter the color of your skin. The church needs to acknowledge this truth.

The sin of racism (pride, hatred, bitterness) exists in whites, blacks, and everyone else. These sins are present to some degree in every culture. These thoughts and actions are sinful because God says so, not because society has labelled them so. God alone is our standard, and he alone can bring healing. The reason the common rhetoric of racial reconciliation isn’t working is precisely because it can’t work. Why? Because much of it denies God’s standards and is instead following the systems of this world.

Where do we find healing and reconciliation? We find healing by embracing Christian unity. This unity is what I like to call a double-unity.

In the rest of this post, I will define this double-unity and then make four practical applications to the discussion of racial reconciliation.

First, what do I mean by double-unity? This unity is based on the truth that all Christians are united to each other in two ways: in Adam and in Christ. Let’s explore this double-unity.

Our first unity is found in Adam. This is true whether someone is a Christian or not. Every human being comes from one race, and the head of that race is Adam. In this way, all of humanity is united in our origin. Moreover, we know that mankind was created equally in the image of God. There is one mankind, and all of that mankind carries the image of God. This means all of us have the same worth and that worth is not rooted inside of us. It is not based on our abilities or our standing in society. Our worth is found outside of ourselves by virtue of who we were made to reflect—our Creator. Mankind is one. In a very real way, speaking of different races is unbiblical and plays into Darwinist thinking. In Darwinism, different races make sense because of evolution. In this way, the idea of racial superiority as it follows the evolutionary dogma of survival of the fittest. The weak should serve the strong or die off. Such thinking is repulsive and doesn’t fit with the Christian worldview. There is only one human race.

Despite being united in Adam, this is not all a good news for mankind. Our unity in Adam was permanently warped by the fall. When Adam & Eve chose to sin, all of mankind was forever changed (Rom. 5.12). We are all rebellious sinners now. This is our equality—we are all equally damned before a righteous God. This cannot be stressed enough; there is no room for pride in your physical lineage because in Adam we are all guilty and deserve judgment.

It is our unity in sin, in our need for salvation, that we must not lose sight of when discussing race. This is exactly what Paul does when he addresses the division between Jewish and Gentile Christians in the book of Romans. Note that their divisions were not primarily based on race as we conceive it today. Otherwise there would be more groups than just two. But there was division nonetheless. Paul brings the two groups back together by pointing out their mutual sinfulness. First, he shows the Gentiles that they are sinners who need a savior (Rom. 1). You can imagine at that point some of the Jews in the church may have been very happy, but then Paul displays that the Jews are in the same predicament (Rom. 2). They are equal and united in their sin.

All of this leads him to make this declaration, “What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin” (Rom. 3.9). Paul’s solution: no matter your group identity, you are equal in your sin and your need before God. Christians should recover this type of thinking. All of us, no matter the color of our sin, are sinners in need of salvation. We are unified in our depravity.

We are helpless sinners who are wrecked and ruined by the fall. If we want to heal our current divisions, it starts with the humility of recognizing our sinful status before a holy God. Our healing can’t start with us; it must start with the proper humility of fallen sinners. When we start here, gone is any potential pride in the color of our skin. Gone also is any pretentious bitterness which may cause us to have an unforgiving attitude towards others as we realize the depth of our own guilt.

The second part of our double-unity is that we are now one new man in Jesus Christ (Gal. 3.27-29; Eph. 2.14-15; 1 Cor. 12.12-13). This is the other argument Paul employed to heal divisions in the church—we are objectively one in Christ. We are the new mankind. Jesus is the new, second Adam and he is, therefore, the head of a new race (Rom. 5.15-21). How do we start getting over the divisions of our worldly categories? We start to think of ourselves as we are in Christ. We are one. Christ died for us that we might become citizens of a new kingdom and members of a new people group. This is the objective truth—we are a new man being transformed into the image of Christ. In Christ, we are one.

Paul applies this new unity to how Christians should live in Colossians 3.9-11. Most of Colossians 3 is an extended discussion of putting to death who we were before Christ and then putting on our new identity found in Christ. We are told to “put off” who we used to be and to “put on” who we are in Christ. This is instructive to this discussion because Paul includes our ethnic identities.

Note what Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says about our new selves, “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” In Christ, there is no such thing as Jews, Greeks, Barbarians, or Scythians. Barbarians and Scythians were ethnic labels for people groups who were often looked down upon. Should Christians primarily think of themselves or other Christians in those terms anymore? No. Those identities are part of our old selves before Christ. They do not exist in the same way in Christ. By that I don’t mean these differences totally disappear; rather, such identifiers are no longer primary to who we are. These things become secondary. Now our identity, ethnicity, and people are primarily found in Christ. We are a new people in Christ. We need to heed these words. We must put to death any thinking which seeks to find our primary identity outside of Christ. To do so mocks the work of Christ. We must put off our identity politics and put on our new unified identity found in Christ.

As we often see in the New Testament, change comes by recognizing the new objective realities of the gospel. Truth is to inspire how we live. Christians have this double-unity in our fallen humanity and in our redemption in Christ. Christians are objectively one in Christ. We need to live like it.

Let me make four quick applications based on this double-unity:

  1. Stop identifying yourself by the categories of this world. You are not primarily rich or poor; male or female; white or black. Those realities do not go away in Christ, but they are no longer primary. To put it bluntly, we should not refer to ourselves as white Christians or black Christians. We are Christians who happen to be white or who happen to be black. Identity politics die at the foot of the Cross. Now we are his, and in him, we are one. The stress is on our new selves in Christ. We must put this on if we hope to heal our current divisions. Unity is found in our common identity bought by the blood of Christ. This must become central to who we are and how we live.

  2. Model the humility of a redeemed-sinner. When we realize how helpless we were before Christ and how dependent we are in Christ, it is hard for bitterness and hatred to take root. Far too often in this discussion, we let bitterness fuel our language. But when we recognize that all of us are sinners in need of grace, that should change how we view our brothers and ourselves. Humility is found when we recognize our dependence on grace.

  3. Consider others more important than ourselves by practicing forbearance and maintaining a desire for forgiveness. One of the major obstacles to healing has been that many seem more interested in verbally lashing the other side than in extending the same grace they have received from Christ. This does not negate the real differences which need to be worked out, but it does change the environment in which the disagreements happen. God has forgiven us, now we are to be a forgiving people.

  4. Pursue truth by submitting to God’s word. This is our foundation for truth, and without it, we are lost. The differences we have in views do need to be ironed out, and the only way to do that is by submitting to God through his Word. But this step must be done in light of our double-unity and how God graciously forgives us through the work of Christ. Truth matters, and truth is found in Scripture.

God alone can provide healing to us, and he offers that healing in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The objective unity all Christians have in Christ must be front and center to our racial reconciliation discussions. We can never move past this fundamental reality. We are one, not because of us, but because of him. Therefore, we need to put off any identities which we may hold more dearly than Christ. The old is gone, and the new has come. This is the only way our current fractures can be healed. Our double-unity shows that I’m a sinner and so are you. That you need grace, and so do I. That in Christ, our greatest problem is solved through the free gift of God. That in Christ, we are one. That even in all our differences and disagreements, the truth of what we have in common is of far greater importance. This is the gospel truth. Will we be humble enough to submit to it?

Levi J. Secord

Racial Reconciliation: Looking in All the Wrong Places

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“I know we haven’t met, but I thought you should know how much I’ve struggled with hatred toward you this year,” a young minority woman tearfully said to me. That night is forever burned into my memory. This was a striking admission on her part, and it was just the start of a long evening. This young lady and I both attended the same small conservative Christian college, and we were at a racial reconciliation meeting. It was 2007, and it had been a long, divisive year on campus talking about racial issues. Earlier that year, the campus was tossed into chaos by a chapel speaker who implied all white students were naturally racist. Little did I know at the time, but my alma mater was ahead its time as it pushed a Marxist vision of social justice.

As you can imagine, such rhetoric caused sharp divisions in the student body, even among those who didn’t know each other. This reconciliation meeting was my idea. I had been an outspoken critic of the chapel speaker and those who were using racist language to condemn racism. My opposition to this rhetoric was based on two critiques: their language wasn’t biblical, and their methods would never bring unity. My outspoken critiques put a target on my back and contributed to some students hating me.

At the meeting, this young woman revealed her heart to me as explain her hatred for her Christian brother. She did not ask for forgiveness; she just wanted me to know. As the evening progressed, another young man from the opposing camp group yelled at me when I extended my hand to him. The night was eye-opening for me on many levels. I understand how our emotions can get the better of us in heated debates as I have been guilty of that on several occasions. That is not what alarmed me. Rather, I noticed that night was that many in the racial reconciliation movement appeared to have little desire for actual reconciliation. Instead, they wanted individuals to verbally lash. The only way into their good graces was to submit to that lashing both now and in the future. It appears that for some the status of victim was more important than obeying the commands of Christ when it comes to showing love, grace, forbearance, and forgiveness to other Christians.

I left that meeting a different man, but not in the way I was hoping. I hoped that what we had in common, Jesus Christ, would trump any differences. That we could find common ground, but that never came to fruition. I believe this is the fatal flaw of many who speak the loudest about racial reconciliation—they are looking for it in all the wrong places. Much of the rhetoric dividing evangelicalism is driven more by a political ideology than by the Cross of Christ. I do not write these words lightly. I know there are good and bad examples on both sides of this issue. But as I look back at the fallout from that tumultuous year, it is clear little good has come from it. My school has gone further down the social justice trajectory with predictable results, and several of those I argued against that year have left the faith altogether.

Fast-forward to today. I have been watching the same discussion occurring within evangelicalism. Many of the same arguments and mistakes are appearing in this discussion. If we are not careful, the outcome will be similar—no reconciliation, more division, and one side will eventually drift into heresy. Here is a warning we must heed! Christian leaders, and parents, need to recognize it is no accident that we are having this discussion today. We are reaping what has been sown. Years ago members of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) adopted Marxist thinking when it came to ideas like diversity, racial reconciliation, and social justice. They have tilled the soil, and we are reaping the bad fruit. My experience at a conservative Christian college is not exceptional; rather it is has become the standard. Marxism took hold in evangelicalism long before most people noticed and this means rooting it out will not be an easy task.

Here is the basic problem: despite all our current attempts at racial reconciliation, we cannot achieve it. Perhaps this is because we are going about in the wrong way. We have unwittingly bowed the false gods of Marx, Postmodernism, and identity politics. But these gods are blind, deaf, and dumb. All they can do is give us an empty offer of reconciliation, but they have no power to achieve it! They can’t heal our divisions. All they can do is make our divisions worse as we follow their dogmas.

Below are common five mistakes made by those trumpeting racial reconciliation within evangelicalism. It must be made clear, I am not against reconciliation, but I am against trying to do so in unbiblical ways. Why? Because such reconciliation is a mirage which only further divides what Christ has united. In my post, I will outline how Christians can uniquely pursue unity and reconciliation. Below are five common mistakes of the racial reconciliation movement:

  1. Focusing on differences will never bring unity. This is one of those logical truths which cannot be said enough. If you want to bring unity between two parties you do not pit them against one another. If you balkanize an entire nation and insist that they find their meaning and identity in their differences, then you cannot be surprised when those differences become primary. You cannot fake amazement when these different groups become distrustful of each other. Conversely, reconciliation is about tearing down walls and coming together. Reconciliation is found when we start from common ground. Unfortunately, much of the reconciliation movement is too busy erecting walls of division by categorizing everyone by race, sex, class, and political affiliation. This is not the Christian way.

  2. Promoting victimhood leads to more victimhood. In the ethics of social justice and identity politics being a victim gains an individual power. It is to achieve an anointed status that makes a person’s beliefs unquestionable. In this ethic, if you are oppressed, then you are holy. Many who promote reconciliation seem more concerned with being victims than they do with being eager to forgive those who supposedly wronged them. The Bible never promotes victimhood as a virtue. Rather, when we suffer we are called to do so righteously (Matt. 5:43-48; 1 Pet. 3.13-17). It is times like this that the parable of the unforgiving servant needs to be remembered (Mat. 18.21-35). Christian, if you have been wronged, then you need to willing and eager to forgive as Christ has forgiven you.

  3. Refusing to have a conversation with those you disagree with will not bring reconciliation. This is one of those ironic truths of this movement. Those advocating for reconciliation often stress the need for conversations to happen. That we need to listen more, but this seems only to be addressed at white people. It is only those who disagree with some facet of the current movement who need to be more willing to have a conversation. It appears there is no real desire for people with divergent viewpoints to wrestle together with these issues. Instead, if you are white, have a conversation means you need to keep quiet, listen, and then agree with them. Those of the anointed victim-class cannot be challenged in any way. It is like they have already arrived and have nothing more to learn. Here is where pastors have committed a dereliction of duty. There can be no reconciliation if one party is not allowed to speak. There can be no unity if your goal is just to shame those who disagree with you. The problem with this movement is that while it claims to want to have a conversation, it refuses to engage with any faithful critiques of its own position. Instead, to disagree with their dogmas is viewed as a personal attack. Is it any wonder why so many white people refuse to talk about race? They have seen those who do speak out be dismissed, demonized, and some have even lost their livelihoods. There can be no genuine conversations in such an environment. Christians, this should not be how we speak to one another. If we want unity between these two sides (and we should), then the two sides will need to be willing to actually talk to each other, listen, and go before scripture with deep humility.

  4. Blatant hypocrisy is left uncorrected and thus undermines anything good in the movement. It is true that any movement has some bad eggs. But when those bad eggs take center stage, behave poorly, and then get applauded the problem is more widespread. The hypocrisy of this movement has been displayed in several ways. Some minorities who looked at scripture and decided to speak out against modern racial reconciliation are viciously attacked by other minorities and are called things like Oreo and coon. At one racial reconciliation conference, an African American pastor used the racist term angloid which is often employed against white people. Later on, this man published a book teaching the church how to fight racism and injustice. This type of highhanded hypocrisy demonstrates that some in this camp have little interest in actual unity. You do not use derogatory, racist terms toward those you hope to be reconciled with. Such hypocrisy undermines the credibility of this movement.

  5. An implicit denial of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I want to be clear here, many in this camp are good Christians who I believe need to think through things more carefully. They understand the power of God to save the sinner through the death of Christ, but they seem to think this same gospel is not enough to heal the wounds of racism we are now dealing with. How do we know this? Because their solutions are not found in the church, but the state. They are advocating for reconciliation through socialistic programs. Instead of turning to Christ for healing, it is the god of the state who will save us! I am not saying the state has no legitimate role in combating racism and other sins, but it cannot bring about healing. It doesn’t have the power to bind up wounds and change hearts. This is a problem for people from every political persuasion in our day, but it is an impulse we must all resist. The government cannot save anyone.

It is these mistakes which doom the current racial reconciliation movement. It is when we doubt the power of God and his Word that we look for other methods. The other methods have no power to reconcile, so we get frustrated and lash out against one another. In this way, the movement becomes about our identity groups and a struggle for power. This is cultural Marxism, and it is hopeless. I have seen firsthand the fruit this thinking brings. If evangelicalism does not want to shatter into countless identity groups, then we need to return to biblical thinking on this issue. It is my desire that the objective unity of Christ bought for his church to be the standard in our churches, but we need to pursue that goal in biblical ways. I will address that topic in my next post.

Levi J. Secord

The Young, Rebellious, and Reformed


In many circles, it’s cool to rip on the movement referred to as the New Calvinism, but that is not my intent today. Technically, I would fall under the umbrella of the New Calvinism. I am young, I am a Calvinist, and I use an ESV Bible. Yet in a lot of ways, I have always been an outsider in this movement. I did not become a Calvinist because I heard a famous Reformed preachers like Piper, Keller, Chandler, or Sproul. Instead, I become a Calvinist in an entirely ordinary way; I was sitting in my Christian Theology class. That day my professor was teaching on predestination. He laid out the Arminian and Calvinist positions as well as the relevant Bible passages. Up to that point, I had been an outspoken Arminian, but I was also dedicated to the authority of Scripture. That day I was faced with arguments from Scripture that I had not considered, and I reluctantly became a Calvinist. In hindsight, other professors had prepared me for this conversion, but it was on that day that I took the plunge.

I became a Calvinist because of the work of godly men I personally knew. It was men whose character I witnessed firsthand, not because of some talking heads on my computer screen. I believe this is a healthier, more biblical approach to theological growth than watching a preacher online and aligning yourself with him. Because of how I entered this movement, I have always been a bit of an outsider. For example, despite being at a Christian school in St. Paul, MN I had little knowledge of who John Piper was (despite knowing many students on campus had what seemed like an unhealthy obsession with him). To this day, I strive to avoid falling into the celebrity culture of this movement.

I never set out to join a movement, but once I was a Calvinist, I found great encouragement in the New Calvinism. It was great to see so many young Christians and teachers eager to return the American church to a theological seriousness. So I write today out of concern for a group which has shown much promise, but who is flirting with a disaster far greater than Arminianism ever was. The social justice movement is being advanced in Reformed circles, despite its clear ties to Marxist thought. To embrace this worldview undermines the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is shocking to me that those who thrive on theological and exegetical precision when it comes to the difficult doctrines of grace cannot see the blatant reality of social justice. How does something like this happen?

For some time I have noticed warning signs in this movement, and I believe it is these problems which paved the way for social justice to infiltrate it. Here are two of the biggest problems in the New Calvinism:

  1. An obsession with celebrity pastors. I am not against there being pastors with national recognition, but I am against the celebrity culture found in the New Calvinism. This culture is displayed in both hero worship and blind allegiance to certain pastors or theologians. As the movement has grown, the desire for fame and power has also exploded. An unfortunate reality is that many in the New Calvinism ironically seem to care more about what their favorite pastor says about the Bible than what the Bible says for itself. As more and more of the young, restless, and reformed turned to celebrity pastors, the more they turned from listening to their local pastors. They follow men they do not personally know and ignore those closest to them. Is it any surprise that these celebrity pastors have been at the forefront for calling for social justice? Many of these leaders seem to embrace social justice precisely because it is hip and will give them a wider hearing. A movement which has rightly criticized celebrity pastors like Osteen because of his false teaching is following their own celebrities into different aberrant teachings.

  2. An undercurrent of rebellion. It appears much of the trends in the New Calvinism are at least partially motivated by a rebellion against the practice of our parents and grandparents. Our parents are Arminians, so we’ll be Calvinists. Our parents are dispensational pre-millennialists, so we’ll embrace post-millennialism and amillennialism. Our parents won’t drink beer, so we’ll make our own craft beer and flaunt our drinking online. Our parents dressed conservatively, so we’ll wear odd clothes, and all grow ridiculous-looking beards. Now some of these correctives to the prior generations were long overdue, but it cannot be denied a lot of these actions are being motivated by a rebellious heart instead of a desire for reform. This is especially true within the social justice movement in Reformed circles. Our parents voted for Trump, so we’ll embrace Marx! Forget the hundreds of years of scholarly work on justice and politics in the Reformed tradition, when we can anger our parents by embracing identity politics. The New Calvinism needs to repent of its desire for rebellion and instead embrace biblical reformation. This starts by examining our heart attitudes before the Word of God

I still hold out hope that many within the New Calvinism will repent from the problems evident in this movement as they get older and hopefully wiser. Calvinism is ultimately about the supremacy of God, and not how twitter followers someone has. It is about total submission to God’s Word, not rebellion against prior generations. If this movement wishes to be a force of good in the American church, then it needs to return to the truths of sola scriptura (scripture alone) and sempre reformanda (always reforming).

Levi J. Secord


When Mercy Ministries Become Justice Ministries

There is a growing trend in evangelical circles to re-brand mercy ministries as justice ministries. I recently came across this reality when I was asked for church recommendations in a different area. In my research, I came across a church with a justice ministry. Under this ministry there was everything from feeding the poor to adoption. Such ministries were once identified as mercy ministries, so why relabel them as justice ministries? What does this shift reveal about us?


You may be wondering if this is even a big deal, and that’s a fair question. With the rise of social justice in our culture, mercy has taken a backseat. It is very hip to advocate for justice, and as Christians, we certainly should promote justice biblically defined. That’s the problem, much of the modern thinking around justice is manifestly unjust. Within Christianity, the problem is more subtle as we have blended mercy and justice together as evidenced with the current re-branding of mercy ministries.

Justice and mercy are both important to Christians. We must advocate for both without collapsing them upon each other. Justice is giving someone what they have earned, what they are due. Justice is based on merit.

Conversely, mercy forgoes merit and gives good to those who are undeserving. In a very real way, the two are opposites. It was only through a supernatural act of God that both justice and mercy were meet at the cross (Rom. 3.26). To make it plain, justice is something we can demand while mercy is something we have no right to whatsoever. It is the ability to demand justice which makes it more appealing today.

If we make feeding the poor an issue of justice instead of mercy, then we are saying the poor have the right to demand satisfaction. Moreover, they have the right to demand they receive what belongs to others. They can demand it be taken from others and given to them. Such an action violates the eighth commandment and is therefore unjust. Feeding the poor and adoption are acts of mercy, and there is nothing wrong with calling them that. We must remember, not all poverty is caused by a manifest injustice. It is true that some people become poor because of injustice, but it is also true that they may be poor because justice has been executed. Some people are poor because that is what they have earned (Prov. 6.9-11; 24.30-34). In a broken world, things are broken. Justice and mercy are both virtues Christians should support, but we must keep them distinct. If we confuse mercy and justice, we lose both.

What does this trend of mercy ministries becoming justice ministries tell us about ourselves? First, we have become bored with mercy. This is a dangerous place to be. We look at mercy and think it isn’t nearly as appealing as justice. Claims of justice have power behind them today, while mercy is swept aside. One reason for this is mercy requires transformed hearts who have tasted the mercy of God. God’s mercy motivates our mercy. Mercy appears more challenging than justice because we cannot demand it from others. Our indictment is that we are bored and uninspired by God’s mercy. We would rather demand justice than do the hard work of promoting mercy through transformed hearts. We are in a perilous place when we neglect mercy for justice, as our standing before God is based wholly on his grace given through Christ.

Second, this trend reveals our self-righteousness. When we cast out mercy and replace it with our redefinition of justice, it reveals a hideous self-righteousness. When mercy ministries become justice ministries, it reveals that we think we are the just ones who have the right to make outrageous demands on others. In a very real way, much of the modern social justice movement is fed by a modern-day Pharisaism seeking to keep the new woke-laws. We all feel our need for righteousness, and our inability to get it. This leaves us with only two options. We can either seek that righteous through our own ability, or we can receive it through God’s mercy. Too many evangelicals are infatuated with achieving a moral standing by meeting the demands of the woke-laws of our day. But these will never satisfy. We need an alien righteousness which comes from outside of us. We need Christ’s righteousness and we can only get that through the mercy of God.

Christians must be careful how we think and talk about both mercy and justice. Both reflect the character of God, but the two are distinct from one another. We must also ask ourselves, “Where am I seeking to get my righteousness from? God or man-made laws?” If we are truly finding our standing in the work of Christ, then mercy will become so much sweeter to us. Christians can and must hold onto both mercy and justice as distinct and wonderful reflections of the character of God.

By: Levi J. Secord