Public Health, Systems Change, Justice and the Work of the Kingdom
Disparities in population health statuses are tied to inequities in society, and not just differences in personal decision-making and behavior. Christians should (and must) play a role in confronting these inequities, based upon three biblical themes: 1) the instructions in the book of Leviticus regarding the Sabbath year and the Year of Jubilee as a way to protect the economic system from producing insurmountable inequities and degrading the environment; 2) the eschatological image of the New Jerusalem in the book of Isaiah, with its focus on Shalom in contrast to a religion focused on personal piety in the face of oppression and social injustice; and 3) Jesus’ teachings about the kingdom, which include its imminence and the counter-cultural nature of its ethic. The notion of the kingdom can be applied in the lives of Christians (particularly those involved in public health) through individual acts, corporate acts in the context of the church, and state-led actions to bring about social change to achieve social justice. Social change can be described as an act of reconciliation in which systems of society are redeemed by the power of kingdom principles.
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