Friday, July 9, 2010

Social Justice. What Jesus Has To Say.

Let me preface this post by saying that I am in no way passing judgment on anyone. What I am hoping is that by sharing these things it will raise awareness, that it will cause each of us to think and examine our lives and how we live them. Starting with myself.

Social Justice. By definition: A concept that some use to describe the movement towards a socially just world. In this context, social justice is based on the concepts of human rights and equality.

Last Sunday our pastor preached on this very topic. Actually if you are the sermon listening type you should go listen here: Year of Jubilee. In fact even if you aren't the sermon listening type you should go here: to this sermon and listen anyways. If you've been reading my blog for any length of time you'll know I don't often make sermon listening recommendations so I encourage you to take this one serious. Yes, its that good. No, it has nothing to do with the fact that our pastor references my disdain for dogs (he failed to mention my disdain for all pets period, but we'll let that go) and then promptly calls us out for laughing in the back. I will confess that while I do not purchase animals for pets, (no not any kind of pet, no fish, no fowl, no dog, nor cat) therefore no food for them to eat, nor do I pay vet bills. I do however like designer jeans, and have plenty of things I could still give up. We all do. I will admit to giving things up during our first adoption and this adoption as a sacrifice but then of course returning to them when we are done with that process. No, I have not purchased any designer jeans with any ones adoption donations. I promise. Our daughter coming home is far more important then any pair of Joe's, Silvers, or Big Star Jeans ever could be!

David and I have talked about social justice a lot. It's something I have wrestled with for years. How do we as Christians respond to the desperate needs of others? Isn't that what we're called to do? What is our biblical response supposed to be? I could give you verse after verse after verse where we are called to care for the orphan and widow. To love our neighbor as ourselves. How do we walk that out? That's the tough question, how DO we? Because I love facts lets bring a few of them here so we can take into context the gravity of our "American spending". These are the spending statistics from last year.

Americans spend:

$45 BILLION on their pets yearly.
$14 BILLION on pornography a year. ($56 BILLION worldwide)
$345 BILLION on clothes and shoes. Yes CLOTHES!
Coffee is a $12 BILLION dollar a year industry!
$15 BILLION a year on bottled water!
$13 BILLION a year on plastic surgery.

Did you know that more then 1/2 the WORLD lives on $2 a day. That's more then 2.8 BILLION people. That's staggering. We're not talking about people wanting to own a T-shirt or some fresh socks. We're talking about people wanting to FEED their children and then maybe themselves. Isn't that a basic human NEED? Why are we happy to sit in our comfortable house and drink our $4 coffee when people in another part of the world are STARVING? How can that be okay?! Yes, I'm saying I'm JUST as guilty.

I love how the New Living translates Proverbs 24:12 -
Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.”
For God understands all hearts, and he sees you.
He who guards your soul knows you knew.
He will repay all people as their actions deserve.

Here's my struggle. Its the argument I hear ALL the time when talking about this very subject. "But we're used to living this way" or "its so hard because its become our lifestyle" or "we're spoiled Americans, hard to change that" or "I've never had to live that way so its hard to give things up". Hmm. Please go to Africa for just one day. Mexico. India. ANYWHERE OUT OF THE US and you will see WHY its time to change our way of life. We NEED to act. We NEED to make a difference. These are children. These are lives. Put yourself in another mothers place, imagine having to choose not between what cereal you'll feed your child but choosing WHICH of your children gets to eat today. I'm not making this up. When I was in Ethiopia 18 months ago that was a discussion that went on with a translator, a few from our team, and a mother who was so thankful for a feeding program in her small area of Ethiopia.

Do we REALLY need to spend $345 BILLION a year on clothes? Really? We want new jeans and a mother across the globe just wants to feed her baby. The thought sickens me really. (remember what I said was my personal love? Yes, I'm talking about myself too.) We spend more money a day on one cup of coffee then most people LIVE on. Unreal.

The bottom line is - social justice means sharing our wealth with those who have little or none. That's the long and short of it. The bible calls us to do it.

Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. Luke 12:33

And he answered them, "Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise." Luke 3:11

Now some of you don't feel called to adopt, I'm not pushing that but don't let that be your excuse. There are other ways to be involved. Helping families who are adopting, so many of you have done that for us and it has been such an encouragement and a blessing. There are many families just like us in this same process. Have you considered foster care? There is a HUGE need here in the US for families willing to foster teenagers. What about sponsoring a child? There are so many ways to get involved and make a difference in the life of a child. I know we can't save the world but we CAN make a difference. We CAN be Jesus with skin on to these children, to these families.

Oh and just so you don't think adoption is some how a fairy tale or the "latest and greatest trend" or some how makes you a bit more "star like" please read my buddy
Gwen's post on that very subject. I couldn't agree more. Adoption has taught me more about myself, my own selfishness, and my lack of faith then anything else I've ever experienced. Adoption is not for the faint of heart. However it IS the most incredible journey you will ever experience.

What are you doing to make a difference? I would love to hear some of the things God has laid on your hearts. Comment here or better yet blog about it and share the link in my comments.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21


Rachel said...

Standing ovation. GREAT post, friend.

Connie said...

Love you Erica...there is a deluding fog that hovers in affluent America and we need messages like this one to help clear the air so we can see and live rightly. Here's a post I did back in May that relates a little...the idea being that at heart we need to love, identify with, and want to be like Jesus if we're ever going to really get messages like your post today:

Lara said...

AMEN! I often have so many of these thoughts. People are so willing to spend a ton of money on animals, but not other people. It's perfectly acceptable to spend $200 on a pair of jeans, but if you sent that same amount to World Vision it would be very out of the ordinary. Oh, that God would change our hearts from the ways of this world!

Shonni said...

Wonderful post.
These are some of the very things that I have also been thinking.
May our hearts be renewed by the Holy Spirit to really see how we can live differently.

Russ said...

This was good for me to read today Erica. Thanks.

Unknown said...

Thank you! Great job!

Laura said...

What do we do to make a difference? Well, aside from passionately blogging ;) , we have old cars, an 11 year old TV, ancient computer, etc. Instead of puting our money towards "toys" we rescue animals and are in the middle of our 2nd adoption through foster care. God has laid a firery passion in our hearts for orphaned children and abandoned animals. So between adoption costs, vet bills, groceries (human and animal) there's nothing left over for flat screen TV's, deisgner jeans, new cars, or sound systems. But that's okay. Surrounded by the love of our amazing family (including our 5amazing dogs and rabbit) we feel incredibly rich :)

Danielle said...

LOVE the post. You are so right! There are alot of families here in the US that are struggling, that can't make their house payments or feed their families.
Here's how we are being God with skin on.

Anonymous said...

LOOOOOVE this!!!!

Connie said...

Okay, so I already left one comment on this post, but I have another thought (imagine that!). I thought I had written a post on how biblical feasting included remembering the poor, but I can't find it anywhere. Those of us who have clean water, plenty of clothes, plenty to eat, a house to live in, etc can fall into a myriad of temptations (like thinking we deserve it, we have rights, it is all for us, etc). And if our heart is set on the "stuff", we'll dwell in the land of temptation. BUT, if our heart treasures God, we will use what He puts into our hand in a way that honors Him. Giving Him thanks, sharing and enjoying the good gifts He gives honors Him. What father wouldn't burst with pleasure to see one of his children give up some of a gift given so that someone else might enjoy it and give thanks for it too? If we have full plates, and a starving person were in the room, would we not divy up our food to include them? So part of the problem is that we're really good at the "out of sight, out of mind" game. The poor will always be with us...I'm NOT for forced redistribution of wealth schemes, but I know without a doubt that God gives to some so that we can be channels of His mercy to others. If the tide was turned, and we were the hungry ones, which very well may be the case one day, wouldn't we be crying out to God for His body that represents Him on earth to reach out to us. Didn't Jesus come to seek and to save... the starving, the lonely, the orphan, the outcast, the imprisoned are not generally inside our four walls, but like Jesus we can seek them out and be the hands and feet of Jesus to them.

ANC said...

Beautifully worded Erica.

I blogged about this after reading your post.