Thabiti Anyabwile: Preach Justice as True Worship

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Thabiti Anyabwile, Pastor of Anacostia River Church in Southeast Washington, D.C., visits Southeastern Seminary as a part of the Adams Lecture Series. He discusses how justice is intimately related to our worship.

Watch the video above, or read key excerpts below (edited for clarity):

You are serving the Lord Christ, whether butcher or baker or candlestick maker.

Don’t just listen to preaching. Apply it.

“We must no longer give the impression that the greatest act in Christian worship is merely listening to a sermon. We must teach our people in our preaching and by our example that the greatest act of Christian worship is applying the sermon — applying the Word of God in our lives.

“We must hear, yes, and we must preach. Preaching is vital. Preaching is absolutely essential. Preaching is right at the center of the worship of God in Christian spaces. But we must not be like the man who looks in the mirror of God’s word and turns away, having forgotten what he saw. That kind of preaching and listening is very nearly worthless. No, we must look into the mirror of God’s word until we mirror what is in God’s word.”

Why worship involves all of life.

“We must preach a conception of worship that includes all of life. We cannot leave our people with the mistaken impression that worship is what we do on Sunday for a couple of hours. Our people must be taught a Romans 12:1-2 notion of worship, where we present our lives as a living sacrifice. And they must further be taught, through our preaching and our example, that living sacrifices live to make sacrifices on behalf of God’s agenda. And God’s agenda always includes righteousness, justice and mercy.

“So the Christian life, all of it, has to some way reflect God’s desire for his kingdom reign in the world. We need to represent God’s view of justice in the workplace, in our recreational activity, in our purchasing decisions, and in our civic and political lives. Everything we do should be in keeping with what is just, right and equitable.

“We need to recover the notion of vocation, and the notion that everything offered to God is holy. Colossians 3:23-24 should be a touchstone: ‘Whatever you do, work heartily as to the Lord, and not for man, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance from the Lord.’ You are serving the Lord Christ, whether butcher or baker or candlestick maker. It’s holy.”

A person is not a liberal because they care about justice.

Justice is not just for liberals.

“A person is not a liberal because they care about justice. Now, the person you talk to might be a liberal but it’s not because they care about justice. Because if caring about justice makes a person liberal, then I’m here to tell you that God himself is a liberal. And you had better become one.

“We preach and we do justice because we wish to be like our Lord and we wish to see his righteousness fill the earth. The pursuit of justice and equity does not take us from the heart of our Savior. The pursuit of justice and equity takes us deeper into the heart of our Savior. If we know God in Jesus Christ whom he has sent, then we have been instructed by wisdom. And indeed if Christ has been made to be wisdom for us, then as the proverbs say we ought to understand justice completely. We ought to understand that doing justice is essential to that worship that pleases God our father.”

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The L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture seeks to engage culture as salt and light, presenting the Christian faith and demonstrating its implications for all areas of human existence.

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