Kareem Manuel: How the Gospel produces social justice, combats systemic racism
Atlanta-based hip-hop artist Kareem Manuel — formerly an elder at Legacy Fellowship Church who currently works for The Navigators, an international Christian outreach ministry — has been outspoken about social injustice in his music for years.
At Legacy Conference 2016, Rapzilla interviewed him about this burden.
An excerpt of his explanation of why the Gospel should produce social justice is below. In the interview, he also broke down how systemic racism affects America today and offered solutions.
Social justice is definitely a product of the Gospel — true social justice.
The first orphanages the church put together, public schools. Caring for the widow is a command for those who follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Caring for the alien and the poor and the fatherless, these are social justice issues…
Scripture is littered with people who wrongly viewed people. Jonah, as an example, did not want to go to Nineveh, capital of Assyria, and preach to people who had invaded his country. Whether Jonah is a true story or a poetic story to prove a point, he hated the Ninevites, and he felt like he was justified. He did not want to speak to them, and God commanded that he go and preach the Gospel to them, and then you see his heart still being hard and unchanged toward them.
Peter not wanting to go with certain people because they were Gentiles. The disciples not wanting to go through Samaria because they were Samaritans, and they were the wrong type of people.
Acts chapter six, where the Hellenist widows are not being fed in the food line because they were Hellenist… When the complaint came before them, “The Greek-speaking Jewish widows are not being fed in the food line, and that’s wrong,” the church didn’t say, “Man, we just need to focus on the Gospel. That’s not something we care about.” What they said was, “Pray, and let’s find men who can spearhead this thing to change and fix this problem that is happening even within the church.”
I feel like that is how we are supposed to be propelled. The Gospel changes our hearts and then propels us to action and live out our faith. If the Gospel says love other people like you love yourself, that doesn’t mean to just keep your eyes down while you see them being beaten and oppressed.
It’s a very convenient rationale to say, “I feel like the Gospel says I should just focus on the Gospel and not issues that plague our world,” because, truthfully, where are these issues coming from? From sin that is running rampant throughout our own hearts and minds and ideas that allow us to create these formats and systems that would oppress other people, put other people down, but, “As long as it’s working well for us, then it’s okay.”
I feel like that’s what happened when every mass genocide, every group of people that’s ever been mistreated, is that the people of God look away and go, “That’s that’s not my problem,” and that’s not what the Bible ever has advocated for.