The Role of Social Justice in Hodos
Any examination of The Way has to involve relentless acts of social justice. Jesus was so clear on this in what he taught and said, and we see God's heart reflected throughout scripture (2300 verses on the poor and money). He calls those with two coats to give to those who have none; those who gather in the fields to leave some for those who have none; and those who are blessed to be a blessing. The bible is replete with examples, and some would say that God says more about money and helping the poor than about anything else. The call is to be a river of blessing for God - yet another way the Kingdom breaks in for the One who is closer than our skin.
But what does that mean for Hodos - The Way? What do National Aids Day (yesterday), Rwanda, Sudan, Darfur, New Orleans mean for us who would look to stumble down the way, ever closer in essence to that which God created us to be? What do the homeless on the street mean to our walk? How about the invisible child soldiers of Uganda? Where do these fit into The Way?
It is my contention that Jesus makes clear that our walk MUST include caring for the least, the last and the lost in society - This IS the way. Anything less than that is in danger of becoming shallow and self-indulgent.
"Today in the next 24 hours 5500 Africans will die of AIDS. Today in childbirth, 1400 African mothers will pass on HIV to their newborns. If this isn't an emergency, what is? In the Scriptures we are not advised to love our neighbors, we are commanded. the church needs to lead the way here, not drag its' heels. the government needs guidance. We discuss, we debate, we put our hands in our pockets. We are generous, even.
But, I tell you, God is not looking for alms; God is looking for action. He is not just looking for our loose change - He's looking for a tighter contract between us and our neighbor."
This quote from Bono's address to the church is a sharp cry for action, and one that we must echo. The other day I was pondering the role of technology in our society. We have taken this tool and tried to turn it to our use, but what if that was never the goal? What if it was really given that we might have a window out of which we can see the world, and the world is starving? As Christian's in the west we have a responsibility to these dying and despairing, and I wonder if it is only in so doing that we find HODOS, the Way.
The Desert Fathers fled the world to be alone with God, as did the Essenes in Jesus day. And yet Scripture calls us to be Monks in the World - The gospel compells us outward, and into the mess and the joy of humanity. Alex Mcmanus once said "The gospel doesn't call us to be Christian, it calls us to be fully human", and it is in caring for the needs of the dying that we can begin to become that.
Remonking is happening - The church is looking to ancient, modern and postmodern practices to find the Way. Meditation, prayer, contemplation, spiritual disciplines . . . All of them drive us to the feet of Jesus. But it is there that the lover of our souls lifts us up and points back at the hurting and the broken. He invites us to be part of a revolution where we find Him in the homeless, see Him in the sick, and care for Him in the despairing.
Jesus is the Way, and His call to relentless acts of social justice is clear. May God lead us out, that we might love others with the love He has for us.