The only place power is distributed equitably is at that Table in the gathered-church. And this is exactly what happened in the Book of Acts and in the early church . . . and which, now, should be happening in every gathered-church of strangers and unequals in every local, on every street, in every neighborhood, and within every community. This is at least one reason why the church, actually the local gathered-church, is so, so important.
Where this isn’t happening in a local church (i.e., a gathering of strangers and unequals at worship and at Table), there needs to be lament and repentance and correction in righteousness. The church (local and institutional) has so aligned with Christendom (that is, a culture that steals from Christianity just enough to control the industrial-church-complex and its own citizenry, but is formed by power-idolatries, such as ours here in the West) that, we, too, have become a power (or powers) that do not naturally distribute power equitably. But this isn’t the gospel nor the body of Christ prescribed in the New Testament. We didn't learn Christ this way (Ephesians 4:20; cf. 4:17–32).
Yet, this is the place where power is defeated (Ephesians 6:10-12; Colossians 2:15) and the place where the only power known is the crucified power of the cross of Christ. This is the place where “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female” (Galatians 3:8); for this is the place all, by one Spirit, have been “baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13); for “where no Greek and Jew is, that is (kai) [where there is no] circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, freeman, but all things and in all is Messiah” (Colossians 3:11, my translation).
Given that we are subject and, too, often align ourselves, to the powers (at least the side of power we like or can identify with or the side that seems to give us power, which is an illusion of course) here (in this country), it is too natural to believe our only recourse for justice is to call upon those in power to give up power and more equitably distribute power. However, the harder work—which is God’s way in this world now that Christ Jesus has died, been raised, and ascended to the right hand of the Father, and the church, the local gathered-church is His body and presence in a community—the harder work is ecclesiastical, not simply protest, advocacy, and voting. Our church-power and the way we tend to advocate in the public square mimics the current systems of power, so it is natural to have Christian “leaders” gain power, who develop followings as a demonstration of their power, to call upon the powers of government and systems of power to do justly. So, what we have—what we end up with--is only “power” vs. “power.” But what God wants is “crucified with Christ” power among the church, that is, our local churches (rural, suburban, exurban, and urban), and in church planting (especially in the hard places, the hinterland places, the geographically “unlivable” places, the marginal places, the border-places, the places where there is lack of power).
Justice, biblically speaking for (and from) the church is (and should be) a gospel, as well as, an ecclesiastical problem and issue. Please understand, I do not mean, the vague, crowd of Christians who show up at a rally or march (which I do support in many cases), nor the general idea of the invisible church (of which I am still wondering what that is anyway): this is not church. It is perhaps, a crowd of socially-likeminded-peers-who-are-Christians (or are defined by a form of Christian values); but this is not church. By church (here in this essay) I mean the local, gathered-church in a community, in a neighborhood–one that has a parish, a locale of ministry in a place, one with a neighborhood.
Justice, biblically speaking and for (and from) the church is (and should be) a gospel, as well as, an ecclesiastical problem and issue.
I am the author of Wasted Evangelism: Social Action and the Church's Task of Evangelism, a deep, exegetical read into the Gospel of Mark. All royalties from this book go to support our church planting ministry in the Hill community of New Haven, CT. The book and its e-formats can be found on Amazon, Barns'n Noble, (and most other online book distributors) or through the publisher, Wipf & Stock directly.
For more information on our church plant >> Learning Local in The Hill