So today I was pretty excited. It’s Friday. The weekend was here and while I am not completely overwhelmed with crazy projects and tasks to do all day long, I tend to think the weekend is still an excuse to do nothing but think about myself. So that is what I was planning on doing. I wanted to go workout, go see a movie (The Last Kiss, if you were wondering), go eat good, ethnic food on the Drive… maybe get a diet coke (I rarely have the pleasure of getting diet coke here, what’s with my friends and all their lukewarm water? I feel like I am back in France…), and go shopping (hey, its allowed, I’m moving, I NEED to go to Ikea…). A weekend all about me. (note: I wasn’t doing all of this alone… Leigh was going to go with me… I have friends here, don’t worry!)
Then Kristin messages me today to tell me a spot opened up to go to Jacob’s Well, which was hosting a 2 day workshop relating to poverty, that had been filled until people backed out this morning. She was going, Kyle wanted me to go, so I reluctantly agreed and assumed my weekend was ruined. Yes, I actually thought this.
And a few hours later I sit here tonight in a state of humility, still processing part one of the workshop. (I won’t go into all the details here, they will be in a separate post.)
Joyce, the director of Jacob’s Well, is an amazing, AMAZING woman of God. She has pastored a couple different congregations in the past, and I guess you could say her current flock consists of the 16,000 addicts and mentally ill in the downtown neighborhood she lives and works within. Her concepts of holiness and obedience blow me away; I found myself constantly wondering what it must be like to have such an intimate connection with God.
Before I could project too much idealism onto Joyce, she was quick to add that she has no special gift for what she does with marginalized people, in fact, she was once like me- wanting to see the poor experience mercy, but not really willing to step in and do it herself… hoping others would hop to it, covering her slack. Yup, that is me alright. And I am one to get passionate about issues; I helped with World Aid’s Day at Union last year, considered internships with International Justice Mission, did projects in a social justice class on child sex tourism, promoted Invisible Children… I know the issues and yet my actions don’t consistently flow out of that knowledge.
We all took turns reading outloud around 50 different passages from Scripture related to the marginalized people (only 1/10th of the passages related to the poor and needy in the Bible…. yes, TENTH) and talked about the various emotions God expressed towards his people who constantly enslaved and cheated the poor and helpless; disappointment, hurt, frustration, anger… then we talked about how the passages made us feel; numb, overwhelmed, conviction, hopelessness (not all were negative, I am mostly recalling the emotions I felt).
Joyce said the biggest reason we avoid/fear/ignore those who are marginalized is because of how it makes us feel about ourselves. The theme we noticed in all the passages were that the sins of the people were rooted in things like pride, selfishness, greed… but she pointed out the broad theme of idolatry which encompasses all of those things. Idolatry leads to the sin of injustice. We worship comfort, health, money, youthfulness, success, education, technology… and those without such things are treated accordingly, pushed to the margins because they can’t keep up. How do I reconcile that as a Christian? When the greatest commandment is to love God and love our neighbor, why am I okay with dodging the prostitute on the corner? Getting annoyed with the slow, elderly lady who won’t hurry across a busy intersection? Gawking at the disabled? Frustrated with the people in front me at the check-out line who can’t speak English very well? We know the great commandment; we tell people to obey the great commission; yet do we realize how the two work in tandem? Matthew ends with Jesus THEREFORE telling His followers to go and make disciples; teaching them to obey what He has commanded… and what he commanded was the greatest commandment.
Social justice has this trendiness about it right now which is neither good nor bad. I want people to be passionate about something; passionate about mercy and justice (not one to the neglect of the other) But passion for it is different from passion living it, if that makes sense. If I am not living and obeying what I am teaching, that itself is an injustice to God, our peers, and the injustices to which we give lip service.
So, I sit here a little bit more humble than when the day began… praying that God will discipline me and show me how to be more like Him through this weekend… which I guess is a little bit about me, after all.