Thursday, 15 December 2011

The Big Mouth of Injustice

As I gather my thoughts to write this post, I gaze at the kids Christmas tree.  A tradition in this home since my son was old enough to cut a tree down by himself.  I think he was 9 or 10 – Dad’s a lumberman.   So each year the kids go off into the woods, pick out a small tree, I call it Charlie Brown, and they place it in our dining room.  It’s their tree.   It isn’t yet decorated, this year’s Charlie Brown, but it does have lights on it.  Unevenly spread around the tree the lights sparkle, some brighter than others, against the dark green backdrop of the trees branches, leaving large holes of darkness amongst the scattered lights.
But my post isn’t about the kid’s tree.  It is about injustice.  You see I am reading this e-book on my Kindle.  Kindle marketing guru’s added it to a list of books they recommended for me. (Nice of them.  Good choice.  Any suggestions for next week’s menu, Kindle?)  
The title of the book, “The Unlikely Missionary: From Pew Warmer to Poverty Fighter”, grabbed my attention immediately for two reasons:  One, if ever there wasn’t a missionary, I am she.  Yet the Lord has burdened this heart of mine for the desperate around the world, especially orphaned children.   Two, my greatest fear and worst nightmare is that I will be a pew warmer.    I don’t want to be the one in this verse:  if it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”  1 Cor. 3:15
I didn’t sign up for fire insurance.  And my heart won’t let me accept only that.
Now just so that we’re clear: It is by grace I have been saved, through faith – and this not of myself, it is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8).  My service, work, effort as a saved-by-grace-child-of-God, does not make me nor keep me saved.  That is not why I serve.  But His love is in me, it burns deep and I just cannot accept a comfy North American Sunday morning Christianity.
Back to the book......So there are challenges/put-into-practice suggestions at the end of each chapter.  The chapter I just finished has an ‘assignment’ to write about injustice and what it means.  And being the obedient student that I am (ahem, well the point is I did it), I began to research the meaning of this word and find references for it in my #1 resource:  God’s Word.
I start with the definition of “injustice”:
·         inequity;
·         violation of the rights of others
·         unjust or unfair action or treatment
·         wrong
·         oppressive
·         wickedness
During the act of injustice, someone is being violated, oppressed or being treated unfairly or wickedly.  And by definition there is someone committing the violation, oppression or wicked, unfair treatment.
My eyes have yet to see real injustice face to face.  Yet somehow this heart, it aches for the child, the orphan, unloved, neglected, abandoned, helpless, hopeless, and vulnerable.  The statistics, though apparently improving, are still mind boggling.  Injustice is:
·         147 million orphans in the world today
·         Children by the thousands, aging out of orphanages each day, left to face the world on their own.  The majority of them end up in prostitution, living a life of crime, or committing suicide.
·         Children abducted around the world daily and forced into prostitution or into an army or terrorist group
·         Children abandoned at prisons because no one can care for them
·         Children gathered off the streets and thrown into prison because begging for food is a crime
I could go on, but my stomach can’t take it (I told you He got the wrong girl).  My mind can’t even fathom what atrocities some of these children must live through each day.  The despair, the hopelessness, the injustice, it’s heavy. 
What can someone like me do about it? 
What can someone like you do about it?
Isaiah 58 tells us exactly what we can do about.  The wonderful, life-changing words of Isaiah 58.  The words the Lord used to WAKE ME UP a year and a half ago (a post on that someday maybe?).  Here they are:
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:” says Isaiah, speaking to pew warmers,
to loose the chains of injustice, and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood.”  Is. 58:6-7
There is that word.  Injustice.  What does the Lord want me, you, all of us to do about injustice?  Loose its chains, untie the cords, set the oppressed free.  How?  Read the whole chapter and you will find He lays it out pretty clearly.
But there is something else.  There is more to it than just sending food and clothes to poor nations.  That just seems to feed a never satisfied void.  So what is it?  In my search, the Lord brings me to Job, and my heart skips a beat at these words:
So the poor have hope and injustice shuts its mouth.”  Job 5:16
Them’s fightin’ words. 
Ah, the glorious day when injustice will shut its mouth forever!  But there is a diamond, a glimmer of light in this darkness.  Hope.  So the poor have hope AND injustice shuts its mouth.  They are inevitably linked.  No option.  It does not say “or”.  It does not say “maybe”.  When the poor have hope injustice shuts its mouth. 
Is it really possible?  The end of injustice is HOPE?  Loose the chains of injustice with HOPE?  Set the oppressed free with HOPE?
This hope.  It is held out in the gospel.  It is the anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  It fills us with an inexpressible and glorious joy.  It is one of the three which remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is, of course, love.
Hope.  The word of life.  Held out in the gospel.  Given in love.  Taken hold of by faith. 
We each have a part in this and there is no shortage of opportunity out there to serve. There are so many organizations and so many missionaries around the world and down the street holding out the hope of the gospel, serving and sacrificing in love.  And they are shutting the mouth of injustice where they are.
But he’s got a big mouth so the job is not yet finished.  It reminds me of the kids Christmas tree.  A light shines, sparkles in the darkness, hope shining.  There are lots of lights on the tree, and what a beautiful sight it is.  But there are still dark, empty voids scattered around the tree, mouth gaping wide.
Injustice won’t shut its mouth completely, until the hope light shines in every corner of creation. 
In the mean time, it seems that God has given us clear instruction on what to do to fill our days between Monday and Saturday; to keep us from simply warming pews.

"He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the LORD require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."  Mic. 6:8


At 15 December 2011 at 09:43 , Blogger Dan King said...

This warms (and breaks) my heart like few things have this week! First of all, thank you for reading my book and sharing such gracious words about it!

Second, I think you are right on with the hope thing. On all of the missions trips that I've been on (just two others since that Africa trip in the book), it is always hope that leaves the biggest impact. I've seen kids smile when they get food, and others glow at the thought of a new pair of shoes. But nothing has given them as much as hope. You can see it... it's a smile that goes beyond their face... it's a smile that you can see deep in their soul. Beautiful. Powerful. Simply amazing.

Thank you for writing this! And I look forward to other Praxis posts from you as you continue to work through the book!

At 21 December 2011 at 15:17 , Blogger Amy Sullivan said...

Ok, I have said I would buy this book since it came out. Goal for this BOOK, really.

At 21 December 2011 at 21:45 , Blogger Emily said...

Similar hearts between us I think...thanks for stopping by. I look forward to coming here again...
Merry Christmas!


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