We Are One Body: A Christian Perspective on Justice in the City

What is our responsibility to one another, and how can we motivate one another to fulfill it? Those are the core questions Rabbi Aryeh Cohen asks and answers, both in this issue of Tikkun and in his new book. They are questions on which the survival of our planet may well depend.

I am a Lutheran Christian, ministering primarily at this point in my life in Pentecostal and other evangelical contexts, rooted in immigrant communities. I have also been answering these questions implicitly throughout my thirty-five years of experience in congregational and community organizing. Rabbi Cohen’s work provokes me to attempt to articulate my own answers from my own wells and context.

Christian Perspective on Justice in the City

What strands within the varied field of Christian theology can support the idea that caring for others is a religious obligation? Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, Augustine, and others appear in this painting, Pope Benedict XVI at Prayer with the Holy Theologians (oil and acrylic on canvas, 2002-2008). Credit: Fred Villanueva (fredvillanueva.com).

Years ago, in the Philippines, I was helping to organize a community of urban squatter women to become engaged in the movement for peace and justice through participating in multisectoral demonstrations. I was trying to agitate them around their “self-interest.” They laughed at me, explaining that it was certainly not in their self-interest to risk their lives. Abashed and confused, I asked them what would induce them to risk their lives. They were thoughtful. A leader replied, “Because we love our children.” I then asked, “If you love your children, why would you participate in the march? Why wouldn’t you just take your children and get out of this dangerous place?” Another woman answered, “Pastor, don’t you know that all children are our children?” This is a truth that most of us have forgotten: all children are actually our children. We are connected. What happens to you affects me, on more levels than I can name or define.

New Testament Texts on Social Responsibility

In the letter to the Corinthians, a New Testament epistle, Paul the apostle teaches that we are so connected that we are like the members of a body.

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(To return to the Winter 2013 Table of Contents, click here.)


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