Greetings in the name of Christ,
I was blessed to be part of the 2013 Justice Conference simulcast, so I thought I would share some of the parts that challenged me.
The session I found most challenging was Eugene Cho, and I was surprised to learn that he pastors Quest Church in the Ballard area. He began with Nehemiah chapter 1, the need to identify with both the suffering of the people and the sin that caused it. He did this before God, taking time to seek and hear from God. He said our pursuit of God should inform our pursuit of justice. Too many non-profits have become industrial complexes. People become “projects” – we no longer see them as valuable individuals with something to offer, but only as something to be “fixed”. Many people are more “in love” with the idea of “changing the world” than actually bearing the cost of commitment and perseverance to do what it takes. And the change we seem to seek is to make them more like us. His recommendation was – don’t try to “change the world”, impact one person and in the process be changed yourself. In order to bring Christ’s love and light into the world, we need to listen more, talk less, pray, fast and be in the word.
As I explored the Quest Church web site, I learned that their outreach ministry is called “Justice and Compassion”. This reminded me of something Tim Heffer, from Hidden Creek Church in Olympia, had shared earlier this month. The justice ministry under that church is called “Justice and Mercy”. Tim said that in talking with people in Olympia, he found that focusing totally on justice brought out anger, “people just get mad”. Yet we learn from James 2:13 that “mercy triumph over judgment” and in Habakkuk 3:2 we see that their plea to God was “in wrath remember mercy”. Jesus came full of grace and truth. His light and love bring both to our ministries.
The reconciliation panel, with a Native American, Hispanic and African American, repeated the theme of seeing people as valuable in God’s eyes, each with something to bring to the table. Too often, as white successful Americans we come in pride, trying to make others like us, again to “fix” them. The current plight of Native Americans shows that the missions efforts of the last 400 years have been lacking with this population. How do we speak of and to these people? Do we realize that immigrants hear the term “alien” as dehumanizing?
Someone shared the story of Bishop Desmond Tutu, during the Apartide in South Africa. A white man had been pushed to the ground and was surrounded by a group of black men. They picked up stones and were about to stone him. Some observers came forward trying to stop them, but Bishop Tutu, a black man, went and laid on top of the white man. Are we in the church prepared to love that sacrificially?
Lynn Hybels said there were many tweets going out from the conference, so here are some one liners I picked up:
Our theology will impact our anthropology – what do you believe God wants for each person? for the victim? for the perpetrator? Is it okay to hate the perpetrator?
It is harder to hate when we’ve really tasted grace. None of us is beyond redemption and none is beyond reproach.
Doing justice is laborious and messy.
Stability is never permanent.
The book of love is long and boring.
The church lives out the life of Christ most fully when we invite pain and suffering in.
We can’t just shop (getting awareness on the various justice issues), each of us needs to pour out sacrificially on a focus.
As I said, much was challenging. Yet, the biggest challenge I came away with was – keeping Christ central, highest, above “justice” or ministry. How easy to slip into the idolatry of an ideal, to allow pride to take over, to seek a sense of “accomplishment” (aka. the boastful pride of life). As I came away from the conference, the Lord brought this chorus from Jesus Son of God to my mind and mouth –
On the altar of our praise, let there be no higher name
Archive for the ‘News’ Category
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Book Review of “Somebody’s Daughter: The Hidden Story of America’s Prostituted Children and the Battle to Save Them.”Posted October 18th, 2011 in News
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