So, after finding out about Eugene Cho and all the amazing work that he does through One Day’s Wages, I signed up for the 5-day challenge that i found on his website. Every day I would get an email about justice and a wee challenge at the bottom of the article. I am hoping to start my own business where justice would be a big issue I am looking to tackle so I have to say, this was truly a useful challenge for me, and I definitely had to share this piece of wisdom and advice. There are/have been so many mistakes I’ve made as a Christian that I am not necessarily aware of and it’s good to just look at things from a different perspective and learn from my mistakes.
I’ve written down each of the 5 days challenge below so you could just read it through and do it in your own time but you could also sign up for it yourself @ http://areyouoverrated.com
Bless you guys. 🙂
Day 1: Justice Is Not Sexy
You cannot read the Scriptures without sensing God’s heart for justice. The theme of justice is not just merely peppered into the Bible here and there; it is woven throughout the narrative of God’s story.
Justice is not peripheral but rather is central to God’s story.
Justice is the act of restoring something to fullness after it has been harmed. Justice is making things right. But it is hard to restore what has been wronged if you don’t have a point of reference. We need to know where this restoration comes from.
If fullness is the goal for us as the church and as Christians, we must seek to understand the fullness of what God intended for His creation. We need to more deeply understand God the Father, Jesus the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit. We need to more deeply grow in intimacy with the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.
More often than not, we’re fixed in the brokenness of our world because we are constantly surrounded by such things. But if we’re not careful, we lose sight of God. We lose sight of God’s purposes and intent for creation. We lose sight of God’s promise to restore our brokenness and our fallen world.
This is why for us, as Christians, the person of God, the deity of God, God’s justice, and God’s goodness are such powerful things. God’s justice is His plan of redemption for a broken world.
God’s justice is renewing the world to where He would have intended it to be.
Justice is not just a thing that is good. Justice is not merely doing good. Justice is not something that’s moral or right or fair. Justice is not, in itself, a set of ethics. Justice is not just an aggregation of the many justice-themed verses throughout the Scriptures.
Justice is not trendy, glamorous, cool, or sexy.
Justice isn’t a movement. Justice is so much more, and the understanding of this fullness is central to the work that we do in pursuing justice.
Take some time to ask God what His Word says about justice. Here are some verses to start with: Isaiah 1:17, Micah 6:8, Jeremiah 22:3, Deuteronomy 16:20. Remember to continually come before our Creator and Redeemer in prayer as you engage in issues of justice.
Day 2: Be In It For the Long Haul
There’s always a cost to doing justice. And there’s always a cost to following Jesus.
We need to be about the marathon and not about instant gratification.
We don’t need one-hit wonders; we need steady and faithful engagement.
We need people who are faithful. People who are tenacious. People who don’t give up. These people are few and far between. But they can truly change the world.
This critique is not something that is exclusive to any generation. This is for those people who are breathing and alive right now. I see this as a cultural problem that is larger than any generation.
Today, it’s just so easy.
Easy to change.
Easy to quit.
Easy to abandon ship.
Easy to file for a divorce online.
So easy to do whatever.
We can explain away everything with our rationalizing, theologizing, Bible interpreting, and emotional justifying.
I’m not trying to say that emotions aren’t important, but emotion shouldn’t be our sole and exclusive guide in all situations. Emotions can guide us, and they can also lead us astray. They can contradict my convictions.
Have you ever heard this kind of promise: “Three easy steps to achieving all your dreams!”? Anyone who suggests such ludicrous fallacies is simply lying to you.
There’s a cost to pursuing your dreams, visions, and convictions. And there’s a cost to following Jesus. This is discipleship.
Don’t run the marathon alone! Seek out like-minded people, like-hearted, and similarly tenacious people, and either join them or recruit them for the cause you’re passionate about.
Day 3: Be an Expert and Go Deep
I remember one time at a conference when a woman came up to me and told me she was very grateful and appreciative of a talk I had just given. We chitchatted, and eventually I asked her what she did as her vocation.
She said she worked at an NGO, serving the poor in Central America. She asked for advice, and I tried my best to encourage her in our short conversation. As I shared one of my favorite quotes from Óscar Romero, I asked her if she had read much of his works or about him.
She had this blank look on her face.
“No, I haven’t met him yet, but I’d love to. Can you connect me? How can I contact him?”
An awkward silence ensued.
It dawned on me at that point that she had never heard about Archbishop Romero—who, by the way, was assassinated on March 24, 1980.
The equivalent of serving the poor in Central America and not knowing about Óscar Romero is to say you care about civil rights in America and not know about Martin Luther King Jr.
How can we say we care about abolition and not know the story of William Wilberforce?
How can we say we care about women’s equality in America and not know the likes of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth?
You can’t know everything about everything, but when you say that you care about something in particular, and feel called about this, this is where I say you have to dig deep.
All issues have their form in a community of history, context, and culture. If we miss these things, we simply are not doing our jobs well. We’re not caring well, listening well, and not setting up ourselves well for mutual relationship.
If you say you care about something, take the time to go deep. What are you passionate about? Set aside time each week to learn. Study the Bible. Read the news. Devour books. Engage people. Ask questions. Be a critical thinker and active practitioner.
Day 4: Justice Involves Relationship
It is easy for us, perhaps more so with our individualistic Western mindset, to forget that relationships matter. Acknowledging and hearing someone’s story matters.
We have to be particularly careful—locally, globally, or perhaps within our own communities—how we engage those we serve.
We have to constantly remember that they, too, are created in the image of God.
Someone I am less likely to consider helpless and in need of saving. Someone to come alongside of. Someone full of potential. Someone God created. Someone with a story. Someone who might be able to teach me.
This is the importance of dignity, mutuality, and reciprocity, or in more simple terms, acknowledging their human worth and beauty. We have things to both learn from and teach one another, and we are in relationship with one another.
Be careful. Be wise. Be human.
When you start dehumanizing the poor, you have no desire to build relationships with them. You have no interest in their stories. You have no interest in relationships. You believe stereotypes that others have told you about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.
When you’re not interested in building genuine mutual relationships, you rob people of their dignity and they become projects.
Don’t reduce people into projects. When that happens, they become statistics instead of people. How can you love and serve the poor if you don’t even know the poor?
Do you serve in your community? Be intentional in connecting with individual people and ask to hear their stories. Build relationship with the people you serve. If you give to a charity that does work abroad, take the time to actually read their newsletters or blogs featuring the stories of the people you’re helping.
Day 5: Be a Genuine Storyteller
Don’t ask people to do what you’re not willing to do yourself.
In other words:
Don’t ask people to pray if you’re not willing to pray.
Don’t ask people to fast if you’re not fasting.
Don’t ask people to serve if you’re not willing to serve.
Don’t ask people to live sacrificially if you’re not willing to live sacrificially.
We cannot speak with integrity about what we are not living.
We don’t need more dazzling storytellers; we need more genuine storytellers.
And the best way to become a better storyteller is to simply live a better life. Not a perfect life, but one of honesty, integrity, and passion.
If you believe it, then live it. For it is through our living that we bring credibility to our beliefs.
One of the largest criticisms of Christianity is hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is the act of preaching one thing and doing another, or promising one thing and not delivering. Christians are known for proclaiming their stance against things they hate or at least disagree with, rather than being “for” anything.
Just think of how differently Christians would be seen, understood, and heard if we realigned our mind-sets, and …
… if we recognized that we lead imperfect lives and lived from that humility;
… if our first instinct was to disagree with people less, and love people more; and
… if our imperfect life trajectory at least pointed in the right direction, toward redemption and reconciliation with others.
Actions speak louder than words. The best way to become a better storyteller is to simply live a more honest, deep, and faithful life.
Take a minute to remember the last person you promised to pray for. Set aside the time to pray for them intentionally today. Then pray that God would reveal the things you expect from others but not of yourself.