This post was first published November 30, 2018. –ed.
No one wants to be a victim. There’s no queue of people eagerly waiting to be ripped off, smacked around, mistreated, and abused. No one in his right mind wants to inflict those experiences on himself.
However, many today are desperate for any excuse to lay claim to victim status. In postmodern society’s backward economy, victimhood is a valuable commodity, granting the bearer unquestionable credibility and authority.
In fact, as John MacArthur explains in his sermon “Social Justice and the Gospel, Part 1,” today a person’s moral authority is directly proportional to how many different ways he or she can claim to have been victimized.
The more victim categories someone is in, the more empowered that person is, the more important that person is, the more truthful that person is, the more authoritative that person is. If you’re in multiple groups, this is a new idea called “intersectionality.” All the segments of victimization come together for you, and your multiple-victim status makes you the most authoritative person, the one to be listened to.
At first glance, it seems fitting—perhaps even noble—to pay more attention to those who have been downtrodden and oppressed. But is it wise or helpful to define people by what others have done to them? Is that a biblical way to look at ourselves or each other?
In his sermon, John MacArthur explains that the victim mentality dominating the culture today is actually a hindrance to the work of the gospel. When we see ourselves primarily as victims rather than perpetrators, we obscure—if not completely blind ourselves—to our fundamental need for the mercy and forgiveness found only in Christ. As John says, recognizing this fact doesn’t mean the denial of every instance of victimization. Rather, it’s understanding that the offenses we’ve suffered pale in comparison to the offense of our sin before God.
Look, I know people have suffered injustice . . . that’s a fallen world. But I also know the Bible is explicit. If you are a preacher, regardless of what people’s social condition is, you have one job, and that is to warn them of wickedness and the coming judgment of God. . . . The gospel says whatever your condition in the world, however you’ve been treated, and whatever’s gone wrong is a small issue compared to your own sin.
The urgency of John’s message is built upon that essential gospel concern—that we must never confuse or compromise humanity’s universal status of guilt before God. Centered on Ezekiel 18, John explains the biblical framework for true justice, and the grave responsibility every individual has for their own sins against God—“The soul who sins will die” (Ezekiel 18:4).
For that reason, the current social justice juggernaut within evangelicalism doesn’t enhance the gospel—it is actually a threat to the Great Commission. “Social Justice and the Gospel, Part 1” is the first installment in a critical sermon series explaining why God’s people must not embrace or acquiesce to this dangerous agenda.
Click here to watch or listen to “Social Justice and the Gospel, Part 1.”
Click here to access the rest of John MacArthur’s sermon series on Social Justice and the Gospel.