Monday, May 01, 2006

The Jesus Habits: Justice

We received a phone message last week thanking us for 15 years of partnering with Compassion Canada. Wow. Over the years we’ve graduated children, and have now a child for James and Rachel. Malachi will soon get a sponsor child, too.

Peter and Haley Mrazik serve in Romania at an orphanage called the Father’s House Children’s Home.

Fathers House Orphanage

"What do you feel God is telling you?" That's always a key question to ask in forming a Jesus Habit.

Habits first. The reason that these two children witnessed what they did was because their parents, Peter & Haley, chose the Habit of justice by serving in Romania with their life. It all starts with cultivating Habits that will change us: Jesus Habits.

“Most people will keep doing the same thing until they are forced to make a change.” Lee Ryan

We always behave out of who we are.

"We have looked and we have seen the deep lack of real transformation going on in the Body of Christ. We aren't - we haven't been - being changed into the people we were created to be. And we have seen that the context of our Christian lives has had a good deal to do with this lack of transformation. I would never argue for change simply based on taste or angst. It's about the big question - 'in what context are people most effectively formed into the image of Christ?' That's it - that is really IT. This is "why church?" Why? Because it is in this context of healthy Christian Community, functioning properly, that we are all transformed into His image. And the answer to 'why do it differently?' is because what we have been doing, on the whole, is not facilitating that change. And so we look deeply and see where the kinks are and we ask God to help us straighten them out. Then, we step out and try, by His Grace, to do that." Alan Creech

“The highest reward for a (person’s) toil is not what he gets for it, but what he becomes by it.” John Ruskin

John 12:24
Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds."

“The things you read and the thoughts you think are the things you become tomorrow.” B.C. Forbes

We can change the world—by changing our own world—one moment, one contact at a time.” Lynne Durham

The Path of Progress
Three great warriors guard the path of progress
And through them you must go
The first is what you do not know
The second strikes a stronger blow
He’s what you know that is not so
The third exceeds in strength the previous two
He’s what you know but do not do Merrill Fife

The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear. Socrates

As agents of the kingdom of God, we live in a new order- God’s order. We are compelled by love to ‘make things right’. That’s what justice is.

Luke 4
"The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD's favor has come."

"The Scripture you've just heard has been fulfilled this very day!"

Followers of Jesus always learned more about ethics than doctrine. Ethics form practices; practices form habits.

Matthew 5:6
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.

Isaiah 5:16
But the LORD of Heaven's Armies will be exalted by his justice. The holiness of God will be displayed by his righteousness.

1 Kings 3:5-9
That night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you.” Solomon replied… “Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father David, but I am a little like a child who doesn’t know his way around. And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! Give me an understanding heart so I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”

Governance is ultimately about justice.

What is justice? It simply means making something right, according to the ‘rightness’ of the scriptures: to love God with all of our being and to love others the same. As followers of Christ our standard of justice is a place where people are restored to a love for God and for each other. It is restorative justice, not retributive justice. And it needs to be activated in a loving way.

You can be both right in seeking to overturn injustice and wrong at the same time! Many folks don't understand that perception is 9/10 of reality. Although the context of what they are doing is right, how they are doing it is wrong… the saying AND the spraying are incompatible. The medium is the message more than the end justifies the means! Recall the first Jesus Habit we spoke of, “Love God and others.”

Matthew 25:35-40
For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.' "Then these righteous ones will reply, `Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?' "And the King will say, `I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'

I think we grab the whole business of justice by the wrong end of the stick. Currently we ask who did it and how we can punish them. But it makes more sense to ask who was hurt and how we can restore them…but the victim’s emotional needs, which are the most important, have been totally ignored. Dan Doerfler

Matthew 12:34
Whatever is in your heart determines what you say.

Romans 16:18
Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people.

Help me follow you Jesus by serving a world you seek to renew rather than standing on the sidelines wanting to judge. Give me a fresh view of redemption and remind me of my participation in it. Give me a vision of what might be. Not because I want to be an eternal optimist, but because I long to see what God has revealed through the risen, victorious Christ. May I long for a renewed, reconciled, reborn world that starts with my neighbor and extends to the rest of the world.

Mark 10:17-22
As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

"Why do you call me good?" Jesus asked. "Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: `You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.'"

"Teacher," the man replied, "I've obeyed all these commandments since I was young." Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. "There is still one thing you haven't done," he told him. "Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." At this the man's face fell, and he went away very sad, for he had many possessions.

Justice has that type of polarizing possibility: we want to seek the greater good of others and love God but don’t want to pay the price. Our internal resistance to living a life of justice holds us back in old habits and patterns. Patterns and habits that eventually bring death.

Most of us are engaged in endlessly inventive evasion… of the experiences of God that we claim to desire. Janet Ruffing

God’s plan is always one of our internal transformation and a deep relationship with Him. But He’ll always let us let us choose less for ourselves. The neared we get to God, the deeper the water, the less I can touch the bottom and remain in my own power; my ego must drown. Remember your baptism!

If you want to change the world let God change you!

God wants us to be so drawn to Jesus that we seek justice because it’s become a part of who we are, not just something to earn us some Brownie points.

Otherwise we live in a poverty of compassion.

“Moral Apathy Drives Global Poverty” article in the latest edition of Science & Theology: “It’s disgraceful- it’s immoral and appalling. We could achieve the goal of halving the number of people living on less than a dollar a day, but won’t.” Per Pinstrup-Andersen

Moral apathy has also been called a ‘poverty of purpose’.

“The intentional, freewill choice to take care of the poor emerges from some capacity to judge right from wrong. Charity is not a natural act. Acts of generosity are remarkable and inherently religious.” Dr. Robert Pollack, Columbia biology professor

Responding with hope helps us overcome a poverty of hope. We believe that God will bring an end to all injustice, suffering, sorrow, and even death. We live in the new order of the kingdom, and as we act in hope we bless the world around us by witnessing not only to the possible, but also to the reality that is to come.

When we share generously of what is 'ours' so that those with nothing will no longer be in need, we are engaging in an act of hope. We believe Jesus' words that "those who were last will be first," so we act on the behalf of the least, the last, and the lost. We trust that one day there will be no suffering, so we seek to bring that future reality into the present by sharing with those in need from our abundance.

We want to participate in work that provides for basic human needs in the places we are present through all our relationships here at CoHo.

We want to work together for the freeing of those in spiritual captivity. Consider how we might help each other find freedom from addictions, fear, greed, lust, pride, malice, rage, and slander.

We will actively work to confront injustice and exploitation wherever we see it. Healing does not come simply by hoping for it to happen. Prisoners are not set free by looking at prison gates. We need to confront those who hold people captive and who exploit those unable to protect themselves. This may at times mean that we simply stand with those who are suffering. Other times this might mean taking action on behalf of those who are being exploited or abused.

We will give comfort and encouragement to those who are grieving and suffering from loss. As Jesus teaches, we will mourn with those who mourn and bear each other's burdens. We need to stand alongside those in pain and share in their pain; neither denying their situation, nor drowning in despair ourselves. We need to see our responsibility as one of entering into the pain and suffering of others, but also one of pointing them to hope.

We are saying that we exist to help others--those 'others' that are both within and without. This church does not exist simply to "meet my needs."

“CoHo is the dream of a place where the hurting, the hopeless, the discouraged, the depressed, the frustrated and confused can find love, acceptance, hope and encouragement.”

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke

The organizing meeting for Christmas With Style is all about justice. Sponsoring a child for Compassion Canada or another agency is all about justice. Serving at the Mustard Seed is all about justice.

"We do not ask Jesus into our heart, rather Jesus has created us and asks us to participate in his universe and life, all the while he is holding our heart together." Baxter Kruger

Would you or I have been shoulder to shoulder with William Wilberforce in fighting the British slave trade? Would we have been shoulder to shoulder with Harriet Tubman in secreting slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad? Would you or I have walked with Dietrich Bonheoffer in a journey of costly discipleship during the Nazi era in Europe?

What do I wish I had the courage to do or say with respect to justice?

Bono's best sermon yet:
A number of years ago, I met a wise man who changed my life. In countless ways, large and small, I was always seeking the Lord's blessing. I was saying, you know, I have a new song, look after it. I have a family, please look after them?. I have this crazy idea...

And this wise man said: stop.

He said, stop asking God to bless what you're doing.

Get involved in what God is doing - because it's already blessed.

Well, God is with the poor. That, I believe, is what God is doing.
And that is what he's calling us to do. Bono

I couldn't agree more with Bono. Justice is close to God's heart. Listen for the whisper of God today. Let Jesus form his Habits in your life.

Loving one’s neighbor is the birth act of humanity. Zygmunt Bauman, sociologist

The Ottawa Manifesto
We All Need Homes, Not Just Housing
We Are More Alike Than Different
Compassion Demands Action
Grace And Mercy Are For All Of Us
Ignoring Poverty Impoverishes All Of Us
Justice And Mercy Define Good Government
Poverty Belongs At The Centre
Government Responsibility Does Not Excuse Church Apathy
Christian Groups Make Good Partners For Government Initiatives


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