See Something, Do Something
The Gospel and the poor
A gospel which ignores the shame of the Cross for political advantage has no power to redeem. But a gospel which ignores injustice is a fraudulent gospel.
Thankfully the Christian church has made huge steps in recovering the grounds we lost and much of this is due to the prophetic Christian voices from across Asia and Latin America. My own experience of talking about transformation is that where there was once skepticism the Church is becoming conscious of its responsibilities in this regard.
Our Global Identity
The church has no option than to plunge itself in the very centre of global events. And we do so for a number of reasons.
First God’s love demands it and the most basic understanding of the gospel and our history compels us to become involved in the sufferings of our world. And that is the point: it is our world.
Secondly, God has always been a global God – the God of all people. This was rooted in the Call to Abraham and carried through the work of the prophets, the promised Messiah. It was reflected in the work of the Church and the Great commission to go into the entire world.
Thirdly, the gospel re-defines neighbour in global context. The story of the Good Samaritan was a direct answer to a question about neighborhood. In Jesus’ worldview my neighbour is the outsider who is not defined in religious or political terms but in relation to his desperate need. So when floods overwhelm Pakistan they are our neighbour.
Fourthly, Jesus redefines family. “Who is my brother and sister?” he asked. Anyone who does what God asks of them. These people have become closer than genetic relationships because they share a world view and relationship which is bound up in God’s purpose on the planet.
And finally, at a time when the world has shown unprecedented interest in poverty reduction it would be a sad indictment for the Church to become invisible or silent on the subject. Our advocacy and our silent actions should be lights on a hill.
And more than anything else our responses to the poor offers us an opportunity to become visible sign-posts of God at work in the world.
Promise and the poor
At the dawn of the Millennium a political miracle happened. World leaders met in New York for what was described as an “unprecedented gathering”. The United Millennium Summit gave birth to an idea in which our nations promised to half extreme poverty by 2015.
This covenant with our extreme poor came to be known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This was a historic and moral contract to “spare no effort…freeing the entire human race from want.”
Not everyone believes that Christians have a responsibility to challenge governments beyond our responsibility to vote. We believe our responsibility is to provide care and support rather than expect anything from government. In any event we believe prayer and activism alone will bring change. Advocacy, we say is for specialist organisations and idealists.
But the Bible leaves us in no doubt that prophetic advocacy is central to our gospel. It is the very essence of knowing God Moses was called to appear before Pharaoh with God’s demand to let the people go free.
But we are also called to remind everyone that God takes promises seriously – particularly when they are addressed to matters of injustice.
God makes promises not press statements
Promise is what God is all about. A promise was what God made when Adam fell. It was what he did after the great flood and when he rewarded Abraham’s faith. He promised the coming of the Spirit proclaiming freedom from prison and the Day of our Lord.
If God is nothing else he is profoundly a God of promise. The sacredness of promise is one of the last remaining tokens of our likeness to God.
His promise motivates us to act and to speak up in the face of adversity but it also allows us to bring an eternal perspective and an element of ‘angry hope’ to the deep problems of our age.
As Dr Billy Graham said:
“As long as there is one man who should be free, as long as slums and ghettos exist, as long as the color of a man’s skin is his prison, there must be divine discontent.”
So what should I do?
1. Start by not shrugging your shoulder - and get rid of guilt. It really doesn’t help
2. Ask yourself: ‘What do I feel passionate about? Is there an issue which upsets me or motivates me to act?’ If there is, Google it and put the word ’Charity’ next to the subject. You will find someone who can help you do something about what you feel
3. Look around your own community and ty to spot something you want to do something about
4. We have an excellent prayer and advocacy guide: www.useby2015.org
 Jeremiah 22:16
 Exod 2:1,2
 Gen 3:15
 Gen 8:15-22
 Gen 12:1-3
 Luke 4:18,19
 Billy Graham Cited J Edwards Cradle, Cross and the Empty Tomb. Hodder