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I’m Sorry, Have We Met?

22July2011

 

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God”

Micah 6:8

I have become convinced over the past few years that a missing link in the continuing reformation of the Church, at least in the West is located in recovering a healthy respect for the role of Justice ministry.  For some in the congregation I serve the word ‘Justice’ itself has a negative connotation. Caring for the ‘least of these’ is a strong concern in these parts but call it ‘Justice’ and people start to back off a bit. This is the result of years and years of mainline church denominations practicing a form of justice ministry that, while on the one hand  genuinely does serve practical needs, but on the other fails to ever mention the name of Chirst or get the members of Christ’s body directly, personally involved. Put another way: do the poor know your name? I mean your first name. Your actual first name. Or do we ‘love justice’ by sending a check or showing up in masse to ‘get in, get the job done, get out and go home?”

We in the West  struggle to hear the very words of scripture that placed proclamation and justice ministry as two sides off the same coin. I am not convinced that reformation will happen in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church without a careful obedience to Matthew 25:31ff. In this text people are commended for feeding Jesus, visiting Jesus in prison etc. Likewise another group is condemned for not doing the same. The second group utters astonishment at ever having see Jesus in these situations. To which Jesus replies: When you do it to the least of these, you do it to me.”  In essence he says to the second group, “I’m sorry, have we met?”

I’ve come to believe that the Word is best communicated when personally put into practice. The greatest transformation I’ve seen in the hearts of fellow believers is when they risk getting involved in the lives of the poor to the degree that they are on a first name basis. We are quite adept at putting up defenses at what is taught or preached. But combine that with actual care of another and  the defenses are breached and the whole message comes to life.

Put another way by Bill Easum, “If your local congregation were fulfilling the mandate Jesus has for you and you (congregation) all suddenly disappeared off the face of the Earth, would the unbelievers in the community weep at the loss?”

+MW@ CCD

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