Thursday, April 11, 2013

Why we do Justice and Compassion

reposted from my friend and co-worker Curtis Doell. He also works for the C&MA and he is the Regional Leader for Justice and Compassion in the Sun region, whereas I am the leader for the Sand (Africa) region.You can check out his ministry at http://livepassion.ca.  I am always so encouraged by him and his wife Linda and he answers the question so well- Why do we do Justice and Compassion? This really is just the beginning of an important conversation but I think that this is a great start for getting us all to think and re-think!

nigerchild

What is Justice and Compassion?

“ I think it’d be good to have some sort of discussion, theological or otherwise, as to what “justice and compassion” means in God’s eyes.  I find that these are topics that most people haven’t considered theologically.  We know we’re supposed to have compassion and seek justice, but that’s about all we know.  The question of ‘why it’s important to God’ doesn’t get much play in Christian circles… “

The Problem

The problem is that public service is becoming “in-thing” to do all across North America. Our good intentions have unintended, negative repercussions. “Our free food and clothing distribution encourages ever-growing handout lines, diminishing the dignity of the poor while increasing their dependency. We converge on inner-city neighborhoods to plant flowers and pick up trash, battering the pride of residents who have the capacity (and responsibility)  to beautify their own environment. We fly off on missions trips to poverty-stricken villages, hearts full of pity and suitcases bulging with giveaways – trips that one Nicaraguan leader describes as effective only in “turning my people into beggars“ ” Excerpt from Toxic Charity ©2011.

The stories go on and on. A church in Mexico painted 6 times by 6 different groups in ONE summer. Villages that have frequent teams visiting having pre-planning meetings about who is going to “go forward” this time. Entire wardrobes are thrown out knowing that there is another team coming with “new” clothes. And the kicker, people heading back to suburbia or their city or their country feeling blessed by being able to help someone who is “less fortunate”.

Biblically…

God reveals himself as compassionate and just towards the poor, the oppressed, the hungry, the fatherless, and the widow. Throughout Scripture God instructs His people to be a community that reflects his nature; a people of compassion, justice, and mercy. Thus, acts of compassion and generosity are important spiritual disciplines that we must cultivate in our life; to care for the poor and oppressed; to live generously toward others’ needs.  In doing so, we carry on the ministry of Jesus and reflect an accurate image of God to the world.

Justice ensures that all people are valued and treated with dignity and fairness because all are loved by God and made in his image. Sin causes humans to have a distorted worldview that allows for prejudices that devalue others. As a result, people suffer injustice. Jesus came to redeem our relationships with God, one another and his creation. We are called to be ministers of this message of reconciliation and serve people, releasing them from spiritual, physical, social and economic bondages.

How Do We Move Forward?

So how do we become ministers of reconciliation and serve people to release them? How do we do this so our helping does not hurt? How can we build steps to sustainability and support?  I encourage you to comment.

I leave you with The Oath for Compassionate Service by Robert Lupton

  1. Never do for the poor what they have (or could have) the capacity to do for themselves.
  2. Limit one-way giving to emergency situations.
  3. Strive to empower the poor through employment, lending, and investing, using grants sparingly to reinforce achievements.
  4. Subordinate self-interests to the needs of those being served.
  5. Listen closely to those you seek to help, especially to what is not being said – unspoken feelings may contain essential clues to effective service.
  6. Above all, do no harm.
Miriama-Niger-cares-for-her-baby-sister-who-is-suffering-from-malnourishment

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