Saturday, November 15, 2008

Justice Struggle

For some time now I have been wrestling with what does a Christian supposed to "look" like and what is the church supposed to "look" like. Don't get me wrong I love the church, but I started questioning the way we do things. Now, I don't want to be the guy full of hot air complaining about the church, but these questions kept coming.

Here is where my struggle began. When I took a second job at Super 1 to pay off my school loans I saw things that I didn't expect. I was working the late shift from about 5-11pm about 4 or 5 days a week. I have been working as the Media Director for Trinity UMC for a number of years by this point. At night at Super 1 I saw a whole new slice of the community of Ruston that I didn't know existed. At Trinity most everyone looked and talked like me. At Super 1 I saw more Hispanic, Asian, African Americans come through my check out line than come through the doors of Trinity. I saw person after person come though using food stamps or on the WIC program to get milk and cheese and other basic needs. Here were people in my community that were in need that I had no idea they were hurting. It was a difficult contrast to come back to church each Sunday and see who we were and then during the week see those in need and wonder if we in the church were even aware of these other people.

Well now I am reading this book called: "Justice In The Burbs: Being the Hands of Jesus Wherever You Live" by Will Samson, Lisa Samson. Things that I was feeling and struggling with that I wasn't sure how to articulate, now have words. It has been interesting there are things in the book that I have already struggled with and I could relate to it clearly because I have been there. There are things that I have been in the middle of processing that my life seems to be paralleling what was described in the book. Then of course the things that were way ahead of my challenging me to a knew way of thinking.

It is a great, well written book. Each chapter has 3 components: 1. a fictional narrative of two people going to church and living in suburbia and being challenged by seeing the need for justice surrounding them. It follows this family as they step into the journey of living a life of justice. 2. Non fiction teaching and thinking section. 3. Then each chapter closes with a devotional reflection by a "popular" author or thinker reflecting on the chapter.

So now I am processing everything from why doesn't my family recycle to us being more responsible for not wasting water in my home. Then to look at my neighborhood make sure I just don't come home from work and shut the garage door and isolate myself from others. To seeing that there are hungry and needy in my community and cooperating with God in the things he is doing to meet those needs.

I am finding it hard to articulate what is happening. Jill has always had a heart for missions and I have felt like I was the one slow to catch that passion. I guess my thinking was: "I work in a church, I'm in a great small group, we serve doing stuff every now and then." Now I see mission all around me and I feel restless, but a good kind of restless. I am seeing the world different. I want to be joining deeper in what God is at work doing.

So I stopped shaving in the shower because it wastes too much water. I am growing my hair out again to donate it. When we finish editing the latest video we have made with the kids in the neighborhood we will turn our garage into a little movie theater(see other videos here). We are going to invite the whole neighborhood over put on name tags and serve hot chocolate. I want us to get to know our neighbors. We are thinking of teaching our kids about what Teen Challenge is. One of the ways that they support the ministry of putting people through the program is they collect old clothes of which they get paid by the pound for. We are going to borrow the idea from the boy scouts and pass out trash bags and letters and tell our neighbors about Teen Challenge and tell them we will come by the next day and collect their old clothes and deliver it to Teen Challenge.

I feel like I have started a journey and it feels like I'm on the right path, but I can't tell you besides maybe a couple of steps out where we are going or what it looks like.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

That's awesome, Steve! We have felt pretty restless too. The challenge is figuring out how to get plugged in so that you *really* make a difference in those lives that *really* need our (actually God's) help. It sounds like you've got some great ideas of how you can do this in your neighborhood! Our plan is being foster care parents. If we all come at it in different ways, maybe we can shine God's light in *all* the dark and needy places....