Archive for the 'Justice' Category

29
Jan
13

adrift at sea

I read an article about three Panamanian fishermen who lost power in their small boat and were drifting in the open sea. A Princess Cruises ship had passengers looking for birds who spotted the boat. The people who spotted the boat reported it, but apparently the message never went up the chain of command. The people also thought they had done their duty by simply reporting it. Two of the three men died as they floated for a subsequent two weeks before being rescued near the Galapagos Islands nearly 600 miles from their original point.

Is this a parable of our times? The wealthy who bask in comfort can see the poor and distressed perishing, yet we pass the buck to the government, a church, or a non-profit to help people on our behalf. Certainly the government, the church, and other organizations should help people, and we should be involved with them and support them. But, at what point do we, do I, take personal responsibility for someone I see in need?

I have walked past that person begging on the streets and not put money in their cup because, in my mind, they’ll only spend it on things that contribute to their situation. But I also haven’t considered in what other ways I might help that person. Some people don’t want help, and you can’t fix that. But there are situations that are different, and there are solutions that don’t require mindlessly throwing money at a problem. Philippians 2:3 says, “Count others more significant than yourself.” Not everyone is in a state of imminent death, but there are people all around us with real problems to which we can provide real solutions. First we have to care. Second we have to take time, because most real problems aren’t a quick fix. And third, we have to be willing to invite inconvenience into our lives in order to aid another person.

If I was the person who spotted that boat, I wonder what I would have done? I hope I would have gone crazy until they either rescued those men or locked me up. I wonder what I will do the next time I have an opportunity to truly help someone in a deep way?

What would you have done? What will you do?

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17
Dec
12

processing the Sandy Hook Massacre and the varying responses

I have struggled to be able to write or speak of much related to the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting. I have four children, one of whom is in Kindergarten, and when I have spent more than a few minutes contemplating these recent events, I go to a place mentally I don’t want to be. Preaching at Shore Community Church yesterday was particularly difficult in light of this tragedy.

I have a lot of questions about mental illness, access to firearms, violent video games, the impact of affluence on bored young adults, how technology rewires the brain, the impact of doomsday rhetoric on young people, school security measures, the impact of divorce on teenagers, and how the combination of these things motivated Adam Lanza to do what he did. What should I say to my kids? How much or how little?

Since I don’t know yet what my thoughts might add to the conversation as a nation mourns alongside a devastated small town, I decided I should just reference some of the things I have been reading and thinking through in this time. Certainly there are other things worth reading, but here are pieces that I have found helpful personally:

The Loss of the Innocents by Ross Douthat

God Identifies with Suffering by Tim Keller

Christianity, gun violence & the nihilism of Mike Huckabee by Phil Snider. To be fair, here is the Huckabee piece.

A Letter to my daughter by T. Michael Law

 

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section. Also, feel free to posts links to writings that you have found particularly helpful. If you go on a rant, I will delete your comment though.

 

25
Aug
12

Jesus and a “Social Gospel”

Over at Huffington Post, Rev. James Martin has “changed” three of Jesus parable to reflect a Gospel that is more palatable for those who don’t feel the need to help the poor and needy because it would only enable them. His re-rendering of Jesus’ parables are quite amusing, but also have the sting of conviction in them.

His three stories are from Mark 2:1-12; Mark 6:30-44; Mark 12:17-31.

08
Mar
12

Kony 2012

If you don’t know about child soldiers, that ignorance will soon end. Joseph Kony has enslaved roughly 30,000 children over the last three decades in Uganda. There is a movement to bring him to justice that you can support with very little inconvenience to yourself. If you don’t want to take 30 minutes to watch the video, go to www.Kony2012.com.

06
Dec
11

MMA and Justice

I read an article this morning about a Chicago felon and would-be mugger who attempted his injustice against a trained MMA fighter. Serves this fool right that he got the beating of his life and is now in jail.

This story proves the proverb spoken in Proverbs 21:15 which says,

“When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.”

19
Jul
10

The Foreigner Among Us – A biblical approach to immigration

Immigration is currently a political “hot topic” to say the least. Set your television to any news station and you are going to hear a related subject relatively quickly. Before I consider economic, legal, or political elements of the arguments, it is essential for my worldview, to first consider the biblical text. Now, if the Bible has nothing to say on the matter, then I take the broader worldview the Bible shapes for me, and I apply it to these other elements of the argument. But, on the issue of immigration, the Bible gives us much insight and instruction.

The first place to start is by recognizing that immigration is about immigrants. Immigrants are people. God made all people in his own image. I know this is complex logic here, but I hope it makes sense.  If God made all people (even immigrants and foreigners) in his own image, then there is an equality among us, and an interpersonal moral obligation based on our mutual humanity.

From that, we see a basis for the several places in the Old Testament where God mentions the foreigner:

Leviticus 19:33-34 “’When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him.  The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”  God reminds Israel of Egypt’s mistreatment of them and says that they are not to be like the Egyptians in the treatment of foreigners, they are the people of God.

Numbers 15:15 “The community is to have the same rules for you and for the alien living among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the alien shall be the same before the LORD.” God tells Israel that he views the nations with equity. He declares this equity as a lasting ordinance for generations. I am arguing that the “for generations to come” extends even to our time.

Deuteronomy 27:19 “Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless or the widow.” In this passage we read the other side of the coin. There are repercussions for those who do not treat the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow in the way God demands.

Jeremiah 22:3 “This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.” Here again, God instructs his people to refrain from wronging the foreigner. We see this type of command repeated in James 1:27.

Furthermore, the book of Jonah is about God sending a prophet of Israel, to Israel’s enemy, Assyria, to tell them to repent and turn to God. God shows his limitless compassion for the nations in this story.

The New Testament offers plenty of insight into this issue as well. For starters, much of the New Testament is about spreading the Gospel from among the Jews, to all nations. The Gospel is meant for all ethnicities, classes, languages, etc.  Also, Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan that highlights a non-Jew as the hero whom we are to emulate in loving our neighbor. Truly loving our neighbor is to love at great personal expense, inconvenience, and trouble. Yet, is this not how Jesus displays his love for us? Did he not willingly undergo humiliation and suffering so that we, both Jews and Gentiles, could be included in his Kingdom?

Finally, how are we to apply these biblical passages today?  First, in our desire to influence legislation and policy, we must remember that immigration is about people primarily, and then about economics, law, and politics.  Second, if we are to be faithful to God, we must provide for and protect the foreigner among us. We must treat her with equality. We must treat him with respect. Even if they do not speak English, even if they have what we consider to be strange ways of living, we must treat them as bearers of God’s image.  This potentially will cause personal inconvenience, cost, and trouble, but this is what it means to love one’s neighbor. Lastly, for we who follow Jesus, we must extend to them the Gospel.  Foreigners come to America seeking the same life, liberty, and happiness that we believe come only from the blessing of God. We, as Christians, must also believe that true life, liberty, and happiness cannot be found in any country, but only in relationship with Jesus Christ.  So, as the nations come to our doorstep, let us extend to them the true life, true liberty, and true happiness they seek.




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