Justice

Feb 20 2013

To Bring Salvation – To Rescue

You don’t have to look very far to realise the world is full of injustice, and as God’s representatives here on earth, it is mandatory that we do something about it.

Bringing justice reverses the effects of unjust acts that have gripped millions of lives around the world. It’s being able to lift a person out of a dominating influence or set of circumstances they’re trapped in; the very thing Jesus did throughout His life as seen in the New Testament.

The parable of the Good Samaritan, which is found in the Book of Luke, is a great illustration of God’s desire that we show mercy to those around us.

There are four characters in the parable – a Jew, a Priest, a Temple assistant and a Samaritan. The Jewish man is walking along a road when he falls into the hands of thieves; he is mugged, beaten and left on the side of the road. The priest comes along the same road. He looks over and sees the beaten up man, but decides to cross over to the other side of the road. A little while later the Temple assistant comes along the road and does the same thing – he sees the beaten up man and crosses over to the other side. Both of these men took action by deciding to step out of the situation. A third person then comes along – the Samaritan. He sees the beaten up man and goes over to help him. In other words, he steps into the situation instead of out of it. He not only steps in, but also uses the resource in his own life to do something about it (Luke 10:30-35 NLT).

After telling this parable, Jesus asked his followers which of these characters was a neighbour to the man who was beaten up. A man replied that it was the one who showed mercy – the Samaritan, Jesus replied, “Yes, now go and do the same” (Luke 10:36 NLT). Imagine if we all decided to step into a situation rather than out of it?

Some people wonder how a good God could allow people to suffer in their circumstances, and there is a perception out there that people living in poverty are where they are because of God. We, as His representatives, are responsible for changing this way of thinking; caring for others shows people that God cares. We are His hands and feet here on earth, and every action or inaction towards the poor and destitute says something to those looking on – either God accepts or rejects them. Our inaction is an indictment to God.

We have to be careful not to translate a lack of action as a lack of care. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone at church who really doesn’t care about helping others. The challenge is to find a channel through which this attitude of care can be turned into action, rather than just a thought.

A common misconception regarding injustice is the way people sometimes perceive overflow versus lack. I can clearly remember being challenged on this when I was in Mumbai, India. I went to a massive rubbish dump where so many people were living in the most extreme conditions of poverty imaginable. It was terrible. Later that evening I went to a brand new shopping mall, which was only about a ten-minute drive away from the dump. I couldn’t help but ask, was it wrong that this flash shopping mall could exist just a short drive away from such extreme poverty? Which one is actually wrong? The shopping mall or the rubbish dump?

If we’re not careful, it’s easy to say that the shopping mall is wrong and shouldn’t exist. It’s easy to say there shouldn’t be rich people when there are so many poor people. But the reality is that the injustice is the existence of the rubbish dump, not that another area is flourishing. It’s wrong that there was another group of people who weren’t flourishing.

Let’s not criticise what people are entitled to in order to make ourselves feel more comfortable with what other people don’t have, because everyone should have the opportunity to be somewhere better than where they are now. We need to work towards everyone getting what they’re entitled to. It’s crucial that we lift up injustice and make it right, instead of pulling down overflow.

It is normal to wonder whether the overwhelming amount of poverty in the world today is an obstacle so hard to move that we should just accept it as part of life. But if every individual makes a choice to be part of a bigger body of people who are doing their bit to uphold justice, we absolutely can see poverty and injustice eradicated.

Imagine poverty as a raging waterfall and you’re standing under it holding a cup, trying to stop the water. It’s impossible, right? But if enough people are willing to stand under the waterfall holding a cup with you, it becomes more and more possible to stop it. It’s not so impossible after all. There is enough potential and capacity within the global Church to actually do something about poverty and injustice.

Most people don’t want to be the person who crosses the road. They want to be the one who steps in to help. This is why if each of us did just one thing to lift somebody out of poverty – and sustained it – the injustices of the world would be absorbed by the global Church, and we would see God’s desire of justice being brought to earth.

Why should we, the Church set out to eradicate poverty? Because we can. We have the means.

Gary Clarke

This article is from our 'Word Bible'. The New Living Translation in a full colour magazine style format. For more info and to get your copy please visit hillsongmusic.com