When do you stand up for someone or something? When an issue strikes you as a great injustice, what determines if you will take a stand?
These are questions many wrestle with as they look at our present reality. Yet this is not a new question, its been a question since the dawn of humanity. Fundamentally it is not a “when” question but a “why” question.
Almost as critical as the first is this question: how long will you actually stay?
Jesus is unapologetically clear about our call to stand with those who are oppressed and on the margins. For me, this is evident no more so than in Matthew 25:35-36:
“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”
In our Baptismal Covenant we make this commitment:
Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
I will with God’s help!
For me, the core of the “why” is in the following statement I recently made when asked this question:
“Grounded in scripture, we manifest our Baptismal Covenant by following in the Way of Jesus as we engage God’s mission.”
I believe the appropriate construction of building to the “why” we make a stand is this:
In my experience when we base our understanding and our calling on ‘Jesus>Baptismal Covenant>Justice’ we are not only there in the initial moment of injustice, but are called to stay for the long haul to work to end the deep systemic injustice.
“Toxic charity” is when we go to “help” others rather than building long term relationship with others in working to bring real change. “Social justice tourism” is showing up in the ﬂash moment, and then leaving for the next ﬂash moment rather than building relationships and staying to work for long term sustainable change.
The harvest is plenty in our world and workers are needed, particularly when it comes to working to end injustice. May we all prayerfully discern where God is calling us to use our gifts to fully bring forth God’s mission of healing and reconciliation.