He Sent; We Go (Part II)

Elise Buchheit was 9 years old when she first called a boy "sexist" and she's been causing trouble ever since. She works in the utility industry and blogs (intermittently) about debt & personal finance. Elise lives in mid-Missouri and can usually be found in deep conversation with her husband about local sports or geopolitical game theory or all the inconsistencies in How I Met Your Mother. Twitter | Blog

This post is Part II of a two part series. I recommend starting with Part I which you can find HERE.

How should we act as individual believers?

Repent. Whether we are so absorbed in our own lives and desire for comfort that we ignore the needs of our neighbors OR we are pridefully seeing ourselves as better and deserving of special grace and position, we need to repent. We need to repent of pain we have caused any brothers and sisters in our church and communities - we may need to repent directly to those people. We need to repent from judgement and from greed. Did I mention pride? The very act of repentance reminds us that we do not have anything to brag about beyond the work of Christ.

Pray. God make us see your image in our neighbors be they near or far or gay or transgender or Latinx or Black or Muslim or atheist or disabled or poor. God make us mourn for the lost and convict us to care more about the eternal standing of all your children. Destroy our concern for ourselves and our comfort and move us to give generously, pursue relationships radically, and care for others in a way that demands a gospel explanation.

Bear. Among our brothers and sisters in Christ, and especially in our local church community, we need to be living closely with each other and bearing each others burdens. If we are living this way, we will necessarily be aware of social injustices or felt needs experienced by our fellow Christians. Bearing with each other might mean simply listening and being physically present for a sister or it may mean giving tangible aid.

Go. We are called to an active mission of love and discipleship. We need to show God’s love to everyone experiencing injustice. We need to break out of our bubble of comfort and follow Jesus’ example as he sought out the outcasts of society, the poor, the sick, and the powerless. We need to go, meet our neighbors, and love them more than we love ourselves.

Give. We should give our time and our money to care for those in need and to pursue justice for the oppressed.

BONUS: Don’t make it about you.
Allow people to share their pain, needs, and unjust experiences without making it about you. For years I made the mistake of always trying to tie someone’s story to a parallel event in my own life which I would share with them. I thought I was being empathetic and connecting with people. It wasn’t until a friend finally called me out on it that I came to understand I was actually invalidating people’s unique histories and experiences. It is okay not to know how to respond or act in response to someone’s lamentation, but drawing false parallels and making the conversation about you is absolutely not the answer.

How should we act as churches?

Don’t Ignore. You and I will probably end our time on this earth with different views about what is just and right. But ignorance is not the answer to our differences. We can begin by not ignoring the social justice issues that should certainly not cause divisiveness. Racism exists and people of color experience injustice in the criminal justice system, the workforce, and the schools. Poverty and hunger exist in our local communities and around the world. Sexual exploitation of minors occurs in every corner of the world. Refugees of conflict are sleeping in tents as we speak. Let’s not slip into ignoring issues of injustice simply because we have differences on some things.

Don’t Conflate. A teacher not being able to pray out loud over her students is not a social justice issue. A courthouse taking down the ten commandments is not a social justice issue. Your Target cashier saying “Happy Holidays” is not a social justice issue. Gay couples getting insurance benefits while your church believes homosexuality is a sin is not a social justice issue. Yes, freedom of religion is a social justice issue, but in our democratic nation we certainly have that freedom (and according to scripture, any individual persecution we feel should be expected and we should pray it serves to glorify God). We must not let our churches get bogged down with outrage over these distractions.

Listen & Learn. Churches should listen to and amplify the voices of members who have minority and historically-oppressed identities. Churches should be involved in the local community and listen to the fears and needs of members of the community. Too often the church is rightly called out for being afraid of science and secular data. Let’s throw that off and dive into learning about the injustices facing our neighbors in this world.

Mobilize. The gospel message is relevant for all people everywhere. People need Jesus. They need food and freedom and refuge too. Thankfully we are blessed beyond belief and we the church can give living water and clean drinking water. In our churches, we should cast off false prosperity-gospel messages and teach ourselves how to share the real gospel with people in a personal way that speaks into their life circumstances. We should mobilize our church body to go into our local communities and love people radically. We should pray as a church body over injustice in the world and we should find active ways to help people in need and experiencing injustice around the world. We should challenge our church bodies to give generously in a way that sacrifices comfort. We should challenge our church bodies to be open to foster parenting, adoption, giving up spare bedrooms, living in different parts of town, and entering the mission field. We must go, love, share.

Continue the Conversation.

I’ve been talking for way too long (seriously, Cassie, you should probably cut every third word), so it’s about time to make this a true conversation. What responsibility do you think we as Christians have to seeking justice? How should we start the conversation within our Christian communities? What fears or concerns hold you back from pursuing justice and reconciliation?

Devotions on Justice
The Liturgists Podcast: Advocacy
International Justice Mission
How to Actually Fight for Racial Reconciliation
Care Sacrificially - David Platt
This Good Word Podcast: Refugees with Lynne Hybels
The Village Church: Justice and Racial Reconciliation
Prison Fellowship

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