We are a culture that is quickly losing its capacity to experience shock anymore. Entertainment and advertising has dulled our sense of the outrageous. Think about the last time you were truly shocked by a Super Bowl commercial. I can’t remember. It might have been in 2004.
The Church is not exempt or immune from this danger either. So how do we speak prophetically into and act biblically with all this outrage saturating our culture and, unfortunately in some quarters, our own ranks as well?
Let’s Have the Conversations
This past Sunday, we began a new set of conversations that are not intended to be easy. However I believe they are necessary because God is not silent on the most pressing issues of our day. In fact, He’s right smack in the middle of them!
In Isaiah 56:1 we read: “This is what the Lord says: ‘Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed” (NIV). How do we do this with the cacophony of loud, vitriolic voices spewing angry messages all in the name of “justice”?
No one said this was going to be easy.
When it comes to justice, we know that God certainly cares about it and shouting over each other isn’t bringing resolution. So what does the Christian do? We discussed five goals for our series of topics this past Sunday that I’ll quickly recap below:
What if your perspective on an issue is wrong or incomplete because you don’t have all the information you need? Would you care? Try filing taxes without all the required documents. You won’t get very far.
James says it like this: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:19-20). Try becoming more like Jesus without listening to other people’s perspectives and experiences. You won’t get very far. The point of listening is not to agree with what is said, but for a far greater purpose. This brings us to our second goal.
Do you know how many people in the world are caught in the web of human trafficking? Do you know how many children are orphans? Do you know how hard it is to escape an abusive relationship? Do you know what it’s like to be treated differently every day of your life just because of the color of your skin? Do you know what keeps people living in generational poverty?
Do you know how God wants His people to respond to the evil which produces these grave injustices?
We may not be personally responsible for all the evils in the world, but we need to take a look at systemic injustice and let it move us deeply. This brings us to our third goal.
When Jesus saw the loved ones of Lazarus weeping because he had died, he wept himself (John 11:35). Those were not tears of pity. Those were tears of shared grief. He felt the hurt. And I think the Church needs to shed more tears of shared grief with the plight of the suffering in our world. Not just the sheer magnitude of injustice, but also the individual persons affected. And when we are moved with emotion, it will move us to action! This brings us to the fourth goal.
Edmund Burke said, “No man made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.” God wants each of us to courageously be willing to do something hard for Him. The results are for Him to decide. We simply obey Him with action. So who is willing to get off the sideline and get onto the field? This brings us to our fifth goal.
I don’t think that advocating for the weak, the poor, the exploited, the vulnerable is optional for the devoted Christian. I think it is part of the occupational hazard of signing on to the ridiculously rewarding work of following Jesus. He never said it would be easy, but he does tell us it will change us for the better. Frederick Buechner tells us Christians that our vocation is where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need. God wants to connect those two because he desires justice in our world and for you to experience Him more fully than you’ve ever imagined before.
Are we ready to begin our journey exploring our calling to “loose the chains of injustice” (Isaiah 58:6)? The first stop on the journey is to engage in the contemptible topic of human trafficking this Sunday. Get ready. It’s going to be outrageous. For real.