The recent bombardment of social justice initiatives via social media has illuminated the deep-seeded desire that exists for a single individual to make a difference in the world at large. One of the many great aspects of being a pastor to youth is the fact that this emerging generation has a natural inclination towards compassion, social justice and world change. And recent world events and statistical data have shown the growth and progress towards social justice issues such as world poverty and clean drinking water are being made.
The problem with this natural inclination is that many other people who may not be naturally wired in this way seem to be intimidated and afraid of it...both inside and outside the church.
The question I'm left asking myself is not only how I may respond to the emerging justice issues of the day, but more importantly, how am I going to filter what I see, hear and experience?
I would suggest that there are only three responses to issues of social justice and poverty. These three distinct responses are illustrated by a story Jesus told called the Good Samaritan.
The basic synopsis of this story is as follows:
- a man experiences injustice
- two men see the injustice and respond with both ignorance and fear
- a third man sees the injustice and chooses to get involved.
The first response to social justice is ignorance. The word ignorance basically means choosing to believe something doesn't exist or matter. This is one way we can choose to filter our experience with justice issues...we can simply choose to try and ignore them.
The second response to social justice is fear. We may not choose to ignore the issue, but because of the complexity of the issue or the potential of getting hurt or experiencing some pain by getting involved, we simply choose to refrain from pursuing justice as a result of our fear.
The third response to social justice is to get involved. Getting involved doesn't mean that one person can solve every issue that exist, but it does mean that one person can make a difference by doing something. When people think about changing the world they sometimes buy into the mentality that changing the world means doing everything, and that's simply not true. Changing the world begins with one act of intentionality at a time. When those who follow Jesus choose to say that are going to be an agent of change by verbally and tangibly demonstrating love for others, the world in which we live benefits. We do what we say and we say what we do...and our doing comes from understanding what it means to be human and in the case of those who know Christ, what it means to be a Christian.
Being a Christian means valuing what Jesus valued...and Jesus values justice.
As our world experiences growing pains and with it more opportunities for change, my hope is that we filter our response to these issues through the lens of both love and compassion. We all have a filter, the challenge is utilizing a filter that doesn't belong to us, but allowing God's filter to be the one that helps us to determine how we might respond to acts of social justice.
What's your filter? How does it need to change to become more in line with God's?
Had a lot of fun with this one.
This is the second of a 3-part conversation on racism and the response of the local church. Join us as we learn, listen and grow.
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