Social Justice and an Appetite for Beautiful Stories



by Anru Liebenberg
Originally published at An African’s Reflections

We don’t need to look too far to spot some kind of injustice in society. Just the other day, I spoke to a man working for the government in Mpumalanga (South Africa). Their health department is currently under administration. Instead of the R 120 per person allowed for departmental catering, one catering company asked R 500 per person…and they got paid!

I have started thinking about the way I (and other people) react to injustice, and whether I am really contributing by turning social injustice into social justice. In the social media culture that we live in, it’s so easy to comment on an injustice, go on with our own lives, and eventually forget about the issue altogether.

There are a few things I think we might consider if we really want to make an effective contribution:

  • Look for the plank in your own eye It’s easy to curse the deeds of a criminal, but not always so easy to spot our own blind spots. The first step to becoming a voice against injustice, is remembering that we are all broken people and in need of a ton of grace. If we forget this, we are in danger of becoming self-righteous fault finders.
  • Choose whether you want to curse the fruits, or find the root of a problem. It’s quite straightforward to spot an injustice. That is the fruit. To spot the root of the problem (and even trying to do something about the root) is a different story. We can have something to say about violence against women and children, but to find a platform where we can influence the boys who might carry out what they have been exposed to in their families and communities, will take some more time, effort, intention and prayer.
  • Raise your prophetic voice wisely When Jesus turned over the tables in the temple, the reason behind his anger was the greed of people, and the fact that some people were excluded. But according to John’s account, Jesus put together a whip out of strips of leather before he responded. Making a whip takes time. While Jesus was working with the leather, he had enough time to think. I believe that by the time Jesus reacted, he had a clear idea of what he was going to do, and the words that would accompany his deeds. I regularly get convicted by the fact that my words should actually lead to change. Sometimes, words weigh much heavier when accompanied with intentional deeds.
  • Put your money and your body where your mouth is Money talks. We all know the saying. When it comes to social injustice, as much as we need people to call a spade a spade, we also need people who will be able to use the spade; and some to buy the spades! In the community where I stay, a 25-year old chose to stand for councilor, because he had a vision to (amongst other things) invest in the lives of young people. Always be on the lookout for places where your time and/or your money will make a tangible difference. That’s being a proactive prophet.
  • Don’t forget to look out for beauty We hear many stories daily. The rhetoric of the majority of stories that we hear (especially in the media) is that the world is falling apart. But there are many beautiful and hopeful stories out there. We have to decide how hungry we are for these stories. They might be a bit more difficult to find, but when we develop a healthy appetite for hopeful stories, our view of the world, and of our calling as followers of Jesus will change dramatically.


Anru Liebenberg is proudly South African. He calls himself a lover of Africa and a follower of Jesus. Follow him on Twitter – @anruliebenberg.

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