Last week I had a rally in Atlanta, to get ready for the year of compassion. One of the guests, a leader of the Homeless Coalition for Atlanta said something that broke my heart:
“When the homeless come to us, they say that churches are mean to them. We hear this all the time.”
We can do better. We must. The church needs to look at the BIG FIVE and ask themselves: What will we do to show God’s love and compassion?
The Big Five are: Hunger, Homelessness, Human Trafficking, Health and Help.
Who will step up?
The problem with looking at politicians to solve our issues is that at the end of the day, they will disappoint you. I believe (and you may well disagree) that Christians need to speak truth to power, not try to become the ruling power.
It’s a difficult balance. We need to be close enough to the powerful that they hear us and detached enough they don’t control us. Close enough we can impact systematic injustice while at the same time detached enough to be able to point people to the gospel. Hence the title, which came from Russell Moore’s book: From Moral Majority to Prophetic Minority.
Here are three pitfalls to avoid as you deal with social issues:
- Not aware.
For some, speaking about difficult issues like race, injustice or human traffic is rare simply because they live in a bubble. It’s difficult to speak on issues that that do not affect you personally. Take for example human traffic and sexual exploitation. It has hundreds of thousands of victims here in America yet as a church we are just beginning to have a conversation about it. It took me a while to “get it”. I don’t know anyone who has been a victim. When I immersed myself in the reality of this insidious problem, it helped me speak what God’s ideal is for women and children that are victims and how the church can respond in a loving and real way. Since there is a tendency to detach oneself from the news you see on TV or in your TL, ask and pray: God, what am I missing?
- Not now.
These are the “take it slow” segment of the population. Most often I hear this call from people that are not impacted by the problem or issues that affect another segment of the population. MLK put it well when he took to task the people that wanted to wait for civil rights. Becoming a prophetic minority includes making people uncomfortable. Seldom has any significant change been effected without the relentless push to end and correct whatever injustice prevails. The prophetic minority needs to point out sin, even the ones we aren’t comfortable addressing.
- Not ever.
This one is slightly different from the first one. When the unaware are confronted with facts, they will willingly jump to help. The not ever crowd refuses to change even in the face of the evidence. It is probably the hardest to deal with. They are the ones who will frustrate you in the Facebook arguments about how privilege does not exist, racism is dead and we are all playing in the same field.
Let me close with an illustration.
In the 1980’s in the midst of an AIDS crisis, many popular churches condemned homosexuality and said that AIDS was a judgement from God. Others stood on the side quietly while people died. Instead of providing a better way, showing compassion we alienated ourselves from a problem that took millions of lives. I believe we can do better. I don’t have to embrace the sin to embrace the sinner. You can stand tall for truth, yet be a champion of compassion.
How are you addressing the BIG FIVE in your community? Let me know in the comment section.