Photo by Tori Rector (Flickr CC)

Dear Church: Justice is your mission

God isn’t just watching. He is doing. Through us.

A large conference earlier this year, called the #IFGathering met in Austin, TX brought together throngs of believers raising their arms, holding up the heavens. I attended last year but this year found me at home, big with child, feeling her hiccup in my abdomen and the slide of her tiny foot against the roof of my belly.

I sat at home and I read about South Sudan, and the fighters who are carrying out a “month of rape” including children and the elderly. Children. Grandparents. Mothers. It’s not even war anymore, just hatred.

And this happening while on the other side of the world we’re gathering to worship the Lord, our children tucked under their down comforters, and safe in our wombs, and my mind goes numb.

I just stare at the news article, not able to comprehend how people made in God’s image can become such vessels of terror. How do we exhibit hope in the midst of such despair?

Jefferson Bethke talks about this in his video, Darkness Is Losing. He says justice is this: throwing the lasso around heaven and pulling it to earth. Justice is the church’s mission.

Because our King is risen. We are agents of reconciliation, restoring the world to its rightful, holy, beautiful, every baby-being-fed state.

I think of The Lulu Tree, an organization working with single mothers in Uganda. Recently six women from the slum started training to become hairdressers and tailors. I think of what the staff mama, Esther, said about them, the day school started:

“I was moving from one school to another paying tuition. I was excited seeing the mamas’ faces on their first day at school. I first went to Jenifer’s school; she showed up carrying a school bag; was looking so fresh she didn’t stop smiling until she went to class. I then headed to the beauty training saloon in Kibuye. Madina was already there in a jovial mood. Today I went so early before every one went to school and gave them their sugar, soap and money and we prayed together for Lulu and every one rushed to school. I am so excited about what the Lord is doing.”

God isn’t just watching. He is doing. Through us.

Justice happens through our hands and our feet and our eyes and our tithing every day. Justice is in the way we speak to our children, in the way we treat the mailman or the grocery clerk; justice happens every time we decide not to gossip about our neighbour or to joke at someone else’s suspense.

Justice is the meal you make for the family down the street, it is the toys you give away with your kids, it is the prayers you plead. It is the lies you don’t tell. It is the way you choose not to lust and always to love.

Justice is our calling, Church.

We cannot stop the war in South Sudan. But we can stop the wars in our homes and in our hearts.

I think of the throngs of worshippers gathered in Austin, and my biggest prayer for the Church is that we not be distracted—by the bright lights or by the names or even by the worship music. That we not be distracted from the true reason we gather together: to be commissioned.

We don’t become disciples so we can simply keep sitting in our pews every Sunday. No, we become disciples so we might take up our crosses and daily follow Jesus. To go forth, and make disciples. To wash one another’s feet. To act justly and love mercy and walk humbly with our God.

And to sin no more.

Emily T. Wierenga is a pastor’s daughter. She’s an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of five books including the memoir Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look ( www.atlasgirlbook.com) Learn more about The Lulu Tree at www.thelulutree.com.

 

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