Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Misadventures on the Road to Social Justice



While writing yesterday's post concerning Amos 5:24, I kept thinking about the connection between these two verses:

But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (Amos 5:24)

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, "Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." (Jesus in John 7:38)

It seems there are at least three kinds of mistakes we can make when attempting to serve those in need.

1. It is a mistake to try to serve the needy apart from Christ as our motivation and source of strength. It is faith in him that should produce "rivers of living water." The needy might receive some help even if we possess an ungodly attitude, but we lose out...and burn out.

2. It is also a mistake to try to serve others with unbiblical methods, or an unbiblical message. If faith in Jesus produces rivers of living water from us, he will be our message -- whether explicitly or implicitly.

3. But another mistake is to do nothing. That's the lesson of the Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. Jesus said that the man on the side of the road was avoided by a priest and a Levite, apparently for religious, ethical, and/or nationalistic reasons. Jesus clearly wasn't so pleased with this outcome, as we know.

As weak human beings, we will feel that we do not live up to #1 and #2. But to fall into the inaction of #3 is certainly not God's will. Therefore, let us take courage, knowing that if our faith is in Jesus we ARE equipped to serve others. Our misadventures will be forgiven -- so let's venture forth!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Amen – we have the living water to provide to a thirsty world.

John 4:13-14 Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this [ordinary] water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

Your analysis brings to mind the dilemma Christians find themselves in regarding their degree of support and participation in secular service/charity. I generally try to avoid giving to/supporting charities which do not give credit to Christ (e.g., United Way), but will support secular community service organizations (Boy Scouts, fire department, etc). Not sure that this is necessarily a reasoned position though – would be interested to hear your thoughts if any.

Wade

Joseph Adrian said...

Wade, I would like to comment on your question regarding Christians and giving to charities(that do not acknowledge Christ). I believe it is appropriate to give to charities(that are worthy). The Lord calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves. If a charity is helping to feed and clothe the destitute(that would be an act of love). Even though the charity may not acknowledge Christ the Lord knows the motive of the giver. I still see it as a good work(and when men see our good works that brings glory to God).

Joseph Adrian said...

I would like to add another comment re-Wades comment:
If someone shows compassion,kindness and love by helping their fellow man it is still a godlike quality. I understand that fallen man does not do this from pure motives, but it still reflects godlike character when men have compassion upon their fellow man.

Ken Shomo said...

Wade,

Answering your question -

I think it is good for Christians to be involved in secular service/charities. This is an opportunity to be a witness to people outside the church who are nevertheless charity-minded, and of course to serve those targeted by the given charity.

There are certainly issues of conscience that might prevent one from working with certain charities, or devoting too much time to this. Scripture indicates that our gifts should be used within the context of the church, so this needs to remain a priority as one figures out the right balance.

This deserves much more discussion...