At the end of one of my first classes, we were asked to consider the way Christians behave and respond to the social issues of our time. Then we were asked what we perceived as the greatest barriers and the greatest opportunities for creating a just, peaceful planet in your lifetime. Below is my response. I am sure one day much further down the road I will look at this and see how far off I am but… I want to be able to look back and understand how I’ve grown and I want others to understand that all of this is a process, a journey.
As I reflect on all of the things I’ve learned over the last 8 weeks, first I think we must always act in line with God’s character and the teaching’s of Jesus Christ. We must not lose sight of the fact that we are to take care of those in need both physically and spiritually. That being said, I’d have to say the biggest barriers we face and the ways we combat them are:
1 – Individualist Attitude. When we consider the change that was brought about by Romero, it was because people aligned themselves with one another, took personal risk, and sacrificed for their community. Ultimately there was fruit in this, both in bringing people into the Kingdom and in freeing people from oppression.
2 – Lack of Awareness. We hear comments like, “This is why I don’t watch the news. I don’t want to hear about it, it upsets me too much.” But Jesus doesn’t turn his back on those in need or pain or bury His head in the ground. Ignorance is not bliss, it is denial. Before this class I used to pray that God align my heart with His. I don’t think I knew what I was asking for until this class! I understand the depth of my feelings and my response better now. We cannot always “act” but we can pray and we are capable of far more than we believe. In each week we heard from people who either didn’t know that trafficking was such a huge issue locally, or that we (especially Americans) were so consuming of our environment, etc. And yet so many people in this class decided to do something about it. If we are aware and we are called to justice, we must act.
3 – Lack of Grace and Forgiveness for Others. If only we were more forgiving towards one another; forgiveness and grace does not negate justice. A great example of this would be the death sentence. Justice can exist without the death sentence in most parts of the world, it’s life without parole; we must value life the way God values it and provide every opportunity for repentance. Additionally we must not hate people; if we must hate, hate the Enemy that works to divide us from God and each other. We need to build relationships with people where we can grow, enlighten and speak Truth into one another. When we cannot build relationships with people we should pray for them and ourselves, and seek deeper understanding of the issue.
4 – Fear of the Unknown/Not Wanting to Be Uncomfortable for Others – This is all over our readings. Sister Dorothy in the rainforest, Mother Teresa scooping dying people out of the gutters and rescuing children, etc. But some people are afraid to go serve soup in another neighborhood. We have to trust in God, look to the Bible and allow ourselves to be guided by the Spirit. He leads us to unknown and uncomfortable places. This is all over the stories of the Bible. When we really consider the things that God asked people to do, he didn’t often give them a timeline or the whole story; people had to trust. We need to do the same.