This article from Relevant Magazine by Remoy Philip wrestles with the question I am asked almost daily as we respond to the desperate physical needs of people in our world and seek to alleviate the injustices that exist in so many places...and yet we are Christ followers who are different and whose service is not done with the same motivation and vision...may we passionately seek for people's needs to be met and for them to expereince the redemptive, transformational love and presence of Jesus as they meet Him in the service His church gives in Jesus' name...
I am in sheer amazement at what I have seen in the last few years and what has been consistently growing throughout our present day. It seems now more than ever, we as humans see and feel—what we could call a sense of awareness—what all of us as humans have an unalienable right for. Food, shelter, healthcare and education have been expended all throughout the world to stabilize the areas lacking the aforementioned needs of this world. This can be seen throughout Gap ads, Time magazine cover stories, and we even see sports stars lending their sizable hands in the act of “doing more” for humanity’s sake. What seems to be more encouraging, is seeing the Evangelicals, the Emergent ones, and all the rest who call themselves Christians, leading in this fight for humanity. I am boastful and proud of the modern day Church, yet I am still left wondering or at least feeling that something is askew. Something in modern day Christendom may be facing the way of the Lord but there is still the question, are we living in the way of the Lord?
Our current day is no different than centuries past when it comes to the battles that define our religious-based spirituality. Nowadays I find myself somewhat wavering or unsure when faced with certain questions about my Christianity—moreover our Christianity. What is Truth? Science vs. God; who will win? Homosexuality vs. what seems like an antiquated view of sexuality. Is the Word adaptable, and more so, malleable to fit our current times? All these questions are warred over by theologians, scholars, televangelists and lowly wise day-to-dayers.
I do not think it would be a bold statement to say that a majority of our generation who were born into a supposed modern Christian home was witness to the polarization of the term “Christian.” We were witness to the word “Christian” becoming somewhat of a prefix to other words such as movies, music, television, books and so forth. After recovering from this iconic movement in spiritual trends, a lot of our generation may feel torn and moreover manipulated by what was done with our spirituality. Throughout this modern technological telecommunication age a sardonic voice can be heard from our age group that stirs to discredit this polarization. With all this said, I worry that we, as a generation and social demographic, are on the verge of repeating our mistakes. Not in the sense that we find a modern day birth of a TBN generation with the selling and promoting of WWJD slap-on bracelets, but more so with the focus on social justice.
I am not going take back my words when I said I was proud of what our leg of Christianity has done with social justice, but I am worried that we may be again creating a skewed social dogma for Christianity. I tread softly through this claim hoping not to create a backlash against the “do-gooders” because I truthfully wish I had more do-good in me. But I ask, tactfully, where do we draw the line for the markings of social justice in our servitude of Christ?
Our motivation has to be grace and redemption (Love plays a major role, but that is not for me to define or extrapolate at this time). If we don’t follow suit in this idea of humble grace, we enter into the cyclical motion of fixing the flaws of our father’s generation. We just replace one morality code with another morality code. What keeps the playing field level for all of us is sin. Sin has the ability to prick the conscience in a way which one is no better than the prince of evil himself. We are all aware of this conspiracy of sin. The time when you don’t know what motivation could have ever driven you to hurt someone you cared for, but you did; the idea that popped into your head you know should never leave your mouth; the action that just seemed to happen with no thought process behind it—we are all prone to these evils. Yet all of us, through a trust and belief in Christ have the will, motivation and humility to live with one another making up for one’s sins and excusing our faults. That, I feel, should be the only social barometer for where the walking, breathing and thinking who surrender themselves to Christ should carry their moral standard of doing.
Romans three appropriates Paul’s letter to the scandalous argument of Law vs. Works. But what shouldn’t be missed is the heart of what Paul is saying. He seems to be the most avid fan of grace. He boasts of the new life we as humans from all walks of this world can share in being the living representation of Christ. To the ambiguous existential left and to the altruistic religious right, nothing can be proven unless we as a social group come together by extending grace for one another’s faults and shortcomings. The world will not see how Christ has saved the world by how many people we feed or save from AIDS; Clooney and Pitt have done a solid job at that and Eggers and Bono have written a strong motivational appeal for that. However, when we, as the ones who choose to be the living representation of the invisible God, choose to forgive one another and extend grace for one another, then the world will ask: “What is it, deep inside of you, that makes you so different?” Then they will see His glory.