Jeez. Where to even start? I just came back from the Justice Conference in Portland. For two whole days, my husband and I were immersed with wonderful God seeking speakers, authors, activisits, theologians, and the list goes on. I came back refreshed and inspired. My heart is so full.
My heart has always been sensitive to injustices. Growing up in a low-income area as a first generation Mexican-American puts things into perspective. Going and living among the poorest of the poor in places like Mexico, India, Brazil, and Africa, REALLY puts things into perspective. At a prayer meeting, at the age of 15, a person prayed over me and said, “I don’t know why, but as I pray for you the word compassion keeps coming to mind.” Not knowing this person, I saw this as a confirmation that my life’s work needed to be centered around compassion. As Walter Brueggeman, stated at the conference, “compassion, rightly-defined and rightly lived-out, should create an emotional upheaval in our gut.” God has put a compassion that “stirs up my guts!”
I was also reminded this weekend that my labor is not in vain. Working in ministry and the non-profit world, can take a toll in one’s spiritual, emotional, and physical life. However, why would I want to live an empty life, filled with just worries about myself, when one of the greatest commandments is to love our neighbor? James even tells us true religion is to take care of the widows and the orphans. Oh what a high calling God is calling us to! To rid of ourselves, so that others may increase. Wow.
Loving our neighbors. So simple, yet so deep. What does it mean? Rick
Mckinley, stated it perfectly, “justice in it’s simplest form means being neighborly”. As my husband stated, justice is about how we interact with each other. Justice and injustice wears skin and it’s personal. It’s the mom in Haiti that has to choose which child to feed. It’s easy to become numb to all this, when we become self-focused and self-indulgent.
Karen Spears Zacharias, said, “Justice isn’t a by-product of our faith. It is the hands and feet and eyes and heart of faith.” Oh Lord, that I may continue to be Your hands and feet bringing the kingdom of God here on earth.
I was wrecked this past weekend, but God renewed that fire in me. The fire in my soul that stirs up every time I read Isaiah 58.
6 “No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
7 Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
8 “Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind.
9 Then when you call, the LORD will answer.
‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
10 Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
11 The LORD will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring.
12 Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls
and a restorer of homes.
And as Francis Chan stated at the conference, I will not let anyone talk me out of the compassion I feel right now. My head, heart, and soul is bursting. Something is going to spill!