By Mark Kelly
Deep in our hearts, we know it is unjust that homeless people freeze to death on the streets and children die by the thousands of diseases we learned to cure a hundred years ago. But most of us live pretty insulated lives. Many of our pastors hardly mention the word ‘justice’ – except to talk about the death penalty. If we see a homeless person, we give them a wide berth on the street. And we never see the children halfway around the world who are dying of diarrhea.
But justice matters. It matters to Jesus, and it matters more than most of us want to think. Read Matthew 25:31-46 and reflect for a moment on the things not done for “the least of these” that sends the “cursed ones” into “the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his demons.”
How many of those things do any of us do on a regular basis?
What does the Lord expect of us? We’ve got a ready answer for that one: live moral lives, give money to the church, and witness to other people about getting saved.
But what if God actually cares about homeless people, prisoners, and people living with AIDS? What if Jesus actually expects us to do something for people who will never have a real chance to make decent lives for themselves and their families?
God’s spirit is moving in comfortable suburbs across America, stirring the hearts of believers to do something about suffering and injustice. But where in the world do you start? How can one person – or even one family – make a real difference with major social problems like homelessness and hunger?
Will and Lisa Samson have some ideas for you in Justice in the Burbs, a new release from Baker Books that will help you get practical about being the hands and feet of Jesus in your own home, your neighborhood, and across town. Whether it’s picking up litter at a neighborhood park, anonymously delivering a bag of groceries to a doorstep, or volunteering at a local food bank or homeless shelter, Justice in the Burbs can help you start making a difference.
If the proverbial flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil can set off a tornado in Texas, the combined impact of 2 billion Christians loving their neighbors would be nothing short of revolutionary.
So check out the book and, more importantly, challenge your small group or Sunday school class to do something. Meals on Wheels. Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Habitat for Humanity. Your local crisis pregnancy center. Something. Anything!
And if God’s love for the poor and Jesus’ command to love your neighbor aren’t enough to motivate some of the folks in your circle, point out that the Matthew 25 passage raises a couple of serious “what if” questions:
What if Jesus really is going to judge us based on whether or not we have done what is right for “the least of these”?
Even worse, what if ignoring “the least of these” is a sign we’re not actually headed to heaven?
Maybe that will give them second thoughts.
Copyright © 2005 Deb Hoeffner, http://www.debhoeffner.com.
Used with permission.
Yes, Will Samson writes for Emergent Village. Yes, Brian McLaren and Leonard Sweet contributed to the book. You don’t like Emergents? Neo-Beatnik theology leaves you cold? So get your pastor to write a book about “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me,” and we’ll be thrilled to mention it here!