Apathy is my giant.

“For I the LORD love justice; I hate robbery and wrong…” Isaiah 61:8

Studying justice and injustice is generally exhausting; it drains me emotionally. I am thankful justice ultimately belongs to God, that He sustains me as I seek to serve Him in this, and that He is my source of emotional and physical strength.

As I am meandering through the process of finishing school, I still don’t have clear direction on the specifics of how I will be doing justice in a greater capacity once I graduate. My mind goes in so many directions: will I be freelance writing for different relief groups? Will I be working full time in a communications department for an organization that does justice globally (or locally)? I simply do not know. Here is what I do know:

I wrestle with how our culture so often ignores (and often even promotes) injustice. Apathy toward injustice is the giant I feel I am facing in the calling of God’s will on my life. I’m not making a blanket statement saying our entire society is apathetic toward injustice, please don’t get me wrong. I know many, many people work hard every day and give their lives to different causes that better the whole of humanity and promote the Kingdom. What I struggle with is a very specific group of individuals in our society – both inside and outside of the Church.

Ken Wytsma of Antioch Church said something similar to the following at the Justice Conference last weekend:

What stops us from doing what we ought to do is guilt, for we are so overwhelmed by the golden rule that it paralyzes us into apathy. Therefore, most of us slip into something more along the lines of a “silver rule” which says, “Do not unto others what you do not want done to yourself.” The silver rule removes our responsibility to do unto others and allows us to passively live a “good life.” We then begin to accept that we cannot change the world and decide to instead do nothing…we must begin to understand that we cannot fully fix the world, but that we can do things to change it.

Those swimming in the eddies of apathy are the individuals I want to speak to. These are the individuals I believe have much purpose and ability to do great things. My question is, how might I strike the core of their hearts and give them courage and promote a desire to act on behalf of the oppressed?

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The Spirit of Life

I have been processing and contemplating numerous things these past few weeks. Jesus-Love. Dangerous living. Sacrifice. Right and wrong religion. Justice. Love. Heartache. Social norms and expectations. Coffee. (OK, maybe not coffee, but because I’m sipping coffee at this moment, I figured I’d throw it in there.)

Since my announcement to close the doors on my company I’ve felt free. Free to pursue what I feel is the absolute passion that lies in the deepest part of my soul. My direction and efforts no longer feel like a means to an end. I haven’t been able to fall asleep at night because my mind is racing excitedly about the adventure that lies ahead. I think about advocacy, and justice, and Jesus, and love, and what in the world should love look like? What does God want those things to look like (in my life, in the church)? Who is the real Jesus? I’m talking about the one in the bible, not the one the recent culture of the American “church” has made Him out to be (because for the most part we’ve done a terrible job at knowing Him and following His example).

Last week I listened to this sermon (entitled: Love as Dogma, November 22, 2009 – um, as well as the week prior by Ed Underwood, amazing), and I simply burned with passion. Tears flowed uncontrollably out of my eyes because we, the church, have lost sight of the beauty of Jesus and His humble example for us. We don’t know who He is anymore. We don’t know how to follow Him anymore because tradition and our own desires and comfort have gotten in the way. That breaks my heart; I walk around with a nearly consuming sadness inside of me because of that. Really, there are no words to describe it to you properly. I challenge you to take the time and listen to that message.

“Love as Dogma” was yet another defining moment in my pursuit of justice and how I will be able to make an impact in this world for the glory of God. I realized that my life may not consist of being a full time missionary overseas. I still envision my life being dangerous. I still envision going to the places that nobody else wants to go. I still long to meet and love on and provide for those that most everybody else has forgotten about. I want to ask the hard questions in search for the difficult answers. And most importantly, I want to carry their voices to the place that they are scarcely heard: to the United States. That is my passion. I beg you to seek for yours if you haven’t found it already.

My heart longs for us to take Jesus for who He actually is and to live love and justice. I want us to question why it is we go to church every day in order that we may actually be the buzz word of our generation: authentic. I want us to question the hurt in this world and to not be overwhelmed at the answer: that we are a part of the problem, and that we can also be a part of the solution. I want us to not be overwhelmed and to simply realize that we, each and every one of us, are created to do something related to biblical justice: whether it is in our immediate sphere of influence and our community, or if it is a radical life comparable to of one of the greats that went before us (Locke, Gandhi, Mandela…).

Let us take courage. Let us ask the hard questions. Let us follow our passions with great fervor. Let us live like we believe our convictions, and let us live that in real love, in Jesus-love.

Thank you. Heartfelt-style.

I need to say one. more. time. how appreciative I am of all that attended the awareness event at the Kilns last night. How blessed I feel that you took the time to come out and educate yourselves and use the power of your voice to help promote change in this world.

That is beauty.

That is love.

Thank you.

Imagine what Marie-Jeanne, or any of the women from that video would feel if they knew we were watching and crying with them? Hoping to help them? Doing what we can? Her heart would be filled with hope. My hope is that it already is because her story was finally told.

The advocacy team at WRN screened the movie about a week prior to the showing, and we sat around to process and talk and share our hearts afterward about how we can empower you (the attendee) and not leave you feeling hopeless. And so, I felt lead to simply try and encourage those that came to the event. I spent two nights and one afternoon in solitude simply praying and writing and reading different parts of books and the word to find anything to help. Anything to ease the pain from watching such a horrific truth laid out before your eyes.

But when I got up in front of everyone, I felt overwhelmed. I felt lacking. Speaking in front of people isn’t that big a deal to me, but you all were different. You were aching and crying and looked hollow with pain, or angry – all of the emotions I saw in front of me were profound. God is stirring something in your hearts. I encourage you one more time to write it down, consistently pray for that, pray for the people, and ask God what justice should look like in your life, because it will most likely be different from the man or woman who sat next to you last night. May God lift your soul, speak to you, and give you the strength to continue to do good.

Justice

Justice:

–noun

1. the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness: to uphold the justice of a cause.
2. rightfulness or lawfulness, as of a claim or title; justness of ground or reason: to complain with justice.
3. the moral principle determining just conduct.
4. conformity to this principle, as manifested in conduct; just conduct, dealing, or treatment.
5. the administering of deserved punishment or reward.
6. the maintenance or administration of what is just by law, as by judicial or other proceedings: a court of justice.
7. judgment of persons or causes by judicial process: to administer justice in a community.


“To look for justice is a sign of deflection of devotion to Him. Never look for justice in this world, but never cease to give it.” -Chambers

That quote hurts my head. I’m not even kidding. Currently I am on a massive hunt for the real definition of justice according to what God says in the bible. Yeah, there are these fabulous detailed definitions on dictionary.com, but it’s vague, and very human. When I see the atrocities and horrors of what is happening in the DR Congo, I get angry. I want punishment. But I also long for mercy and grace to be poured out and for healing to happen. I battle internally about the meaning of justice in relation to this kind of situation.

In my off time, I volunteer for World Relief Next in a couple of areas. One area is for women’s advocacy. There are a few of us who are working on how to advocate and get the word out about this particular fact:

currently the worst place to be a woman is the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

However, not only do we need to advocate, but we need to educate and engage those we share with. And to properly do this, we need to know what God says about justice. This means that Natischa, Darcy and myself (and for the rest of her internship with Antioch Church, the lovely Katy) will be starting to study what biblical justice is. I will keep you posted on thoughts of justice and scriptures that we have found as we do this. I really hope it changes my heart more toward God’s heart.

Holy Smokes

I am blessed to have some amazing friends, gifted by God almighty. Please, spread the word, tell your friends, blog about it, tweet it, Facebook it, Myspace it, email BLAST it. This is a video for the Enough Project to spread the news about the war in Congo and how we are ALL CONNECTED to destruction and violence.

BE A VOICE.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=5399487&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1

ENOUGH FINAL ENTRY from emote360 on Vimeo.

The Unsearched Soul

Lost, downtrodden, empty
She aches
Forgotten, oppressed, confused
She agonizes

Forgiveness she’s never known
Embittered, her heart
She stands tall, shaking
Facing evil, staring at death

The eyes of her enemy show no mercy

The unsearched soul begs comfort,
Petitions justice,
Pleads healing,
Implores saving

Afflicted, abused, unknown
She cries
Alone, sobbing, lacking
She longs

The unsearched soul
Feels a breeze
Catches a glimpse
Hope that shines
Healing that cleans
Love that fills
The greatest void

Firm she stands
Truth she holds
Love she exudes
Forgiveness she extends

I wrote this a while back after a massive influx of information on FGM. It breaks my heart and absolutely fuels my desire to go and offer my life and all that God has given to me to women across the world. This CNN article also played a role in the poem.

"Taken"

Last night I watched “Taken” with my roommate Sam (she is a stellar, passionate woman of God and I adore the heck out of her!). We had a phenomenal conversation earlier in the evening about justice and mercy while we were on a short hike, which ended up being a great precursor to this movie. The two of us simply raged at the injustices in this movie, because both of us know full well that the images and stories in this movie, though maybe not based on a true account, are based on actual events that occur every moment of every day on this earth. It absolutely breaks my heart.

Human trafficking and the sex slave trade are among some of the most difficult things for me to grasp (there are dozens more). The fact that someone can objectify, enslave, oppress and annihilate another human life in such horrific ways is absolutely beyond me. My heart absolutely breaks within me. Any time I narrow in on injustices and spend time researching and reading ghastly amounts of accounts and statistics I begin to over think my calling in life.

I spent some time reading in Hebrews and 2 Peter this morning as the sun rose (while also drinking a half pot of coffee…but nobody should be surprised at that!). In 2 Peter 1:5-10 it says this:

5
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.

10Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

I was simply reminded that it is not necessarily exactly what we are doing for God’s Kingdom, but the heart out of which we are doing it with. God first wants me to love Him, and the rest will essentially follow. I know for a fact that Christ is my all, that He is all I need to survive in this life. Nothing else will fulfill my desires like the sacrifice He made for me. So whether I am at home in Bend or working in Africa, I know that I’m serving Christ with a heart of gratitude and passion with what I’ve been given (1 Peter 4:10), and that is the most important calling on my life.