Somebody’s own son got profiled because of the colour of his skin…
And a girl got stripped and taken and trafficked in the dark…. and when I got waved up to the customs officer, he looked me in the eye and asked me where are you going?
Okay, so you tell me —
Where do you bother going in a world that’s lost and turned around around and knotted up in a holy mess of pain?
I wanna tell him that we’re all done with going down dead end streets and turning the other way. We all refuse to go be ostriches and stick our heads in the sand.
“The Justice Conference. Auditorium Theatre. Downtown Chicago.”
The customs officer at the airport scans my passport, looks right into me and says it slow because he’s seen a thousand things:
“Justice? Look, you can conference all you want, but it ain’t ever gonna happen, lady.”
“I care much about Justice because I care much about the Gospel,” is what Eugene Cho said when he walks across the #Justice15 stage and that’s the only answer that I’ve got for anybody saying justice ain’t ever gonna happen.“Justice is part of the full scope of the gospel— it’s part of who Jesus is.”
“Just like we shouldn’t extract the character of “love” or “grace” or “holiness” from God’s character, such must be the case with justice. We must not just seek justice but live justly. Justice work and just living are part of our discipleship.”
A woman’s being held by Boko Haram right now, her children starving, her body abused and seen as a tool for men’s twisted wants. There’s a kid in L.A. looking for food in a dumpster out behind some rundown greasy hole in the wall. A tired runaway in some bus stop’s getting lured into some gas guzzler by a pimp.
“Everyone loves justice — until there’s a cost. And there is always a cost to justice,” Eugene Cho says that to the thousands of us gathered in Chicago to wrestle with the call to justice.
There is a cost to justice — but there’s a far higher cost to living a life of comfortable apathy.
There’s a far higher cost than living a life of risk and advocacy and generosity and justice— there’s the cost of living a life of convenience and meaninglessness and materialism.“If you are going seek the kingdom of God — you must overcome your addiction to comfort,” is what Neichelle Guidry said.
We can’t afford to say we’re about Jesus —and not be willing to pay the cost of pursuing justice. 15.8 million children lived in food-insecure households in 2013 in the United States of America. 1.2 million children are trafficked every year around the globe. More than 19,000 children in the United States alone aged out of the foster care system last year with no permanent families to call their own.
“You may be known for your opinions, but you will be remembered for your love,” Bob Goff stands there at the mic in his neon socks. “A life of justice means constant interruptions.”
And I want to take off my shoes too, feeling like we’re all on holy ground here, like none of us are playing games here:
Maybe that means life plans being interrupted by a child’s needs…
Maybe that means schedules being interrupted by a phone call to someone you avoid…
Maybe that means let your days be interrupted by the the needy — and don’t call that frustrating, but call it living the gospel.
“Perhaps it’s not enough to have a heart in the right place. Perhaps you actually need to do something,” Neichelle Guidry’s call reverberates like hope.
Maybe it’s not enough to have your heart in the right place —maybe you have to get your feet and your hands and your bent and willing back in the right place. A flyer came in the mail today, looking for volunteers to help out at the local food pantry.
We start moving things around in this house so we have an extra room with a bed, an Emmaus Room — a room for someone to come in and stay with us and for us to recognize Jesus in them.
Right after lunch, another farmer’s wife shows up at our back door with a mason jar full of blooming lupins and a mile-wide smile and two words: “Just because.” We talk in our messy kitchen, me in yoga pants and a t-shirt and her leaking Jesus’ love all over. Never underestimate the ministry of presence and the ministry of flowers.
“The great challenge for our generation is not whether we’ll do justice but whether we’ll do it with joy,” Eugene Cho let his words settle into us. We get to do this. We get to listen better, we get to be interrupted more, we get to give lavishly, we get to “get out of the bubble… because we need all hands on deck.” Louis Dooley
We get to pick up our phones before today is over and ask someone who’s easily ignored, easily dismissed, easily forgotten, easily disliked — to come over before this week is over.
Because “the opposite of poverty is not wealth, it’s community” Stephen Bauman #Justice15…. and it’s time to desegregate our lives and eradicate poverty by actively creating real and diverse communities, communities that are known by their “bravery, humility, empathy, diversity for those with whom we disagree.” Jonathan Merritt #Justice15
There’s deep lament over racial injustices that weep in my FB stream. My ache joins the current. There’s a culture of outrage that’s so loud it’s tempting to grow deaf — and lose the ability to hear the crying of the hurting.
Maybe there could be no culture wars and finger pointing — but there could be cease fires to anger and a culture waging love and us all reaching out and lacing our fingers together in prayer.
Maybe justice could start around our tables, with the people under our roof, with the people we struggle to like let alone love: We refuse to be enemies, we will only speak words that make souls stronger, we will speak tenderly because:
Maybe we could be a people known not by our disgust and judgmentalism, but by our gratitude and our joy because “Gratitude starts movements. You can’t be moved by grace — and not become a revolutionary.” @AnnVoskamp #Justice15
That’s all that I can say at Justice 15, all I can say to the officer at customs holding my passport: When you know you are radically blessed — you will go to radical lengths to free the oppressed.
That’s all I can say after I read the headlines, after I see the news clips, after I sit with people committed to loving through the pain in Bangladesh and Buffalo and in Detroit and Syria, break a bit more for the dismissed and the silenced, for the belittled and the hurting and the ignored and the forgotten:
Don’t turn away from all the pain — pray to not turn away. Pray to always stay in a broken place.
Never stop praying to stay in a broken place, never stop praying that you may never become numb — never stop praying that you may never stop letting love leak through all your brokenness.
When I fly home through the dark, fly over the patches of fields and woods and blinking clusters of lights, Cornel West’s #Justice15 words settle into me like a healing of wounds, “Love your way through the darkness.” @CornelWest #Justice15
“Learn how to die daily… Try again, fail again, fail better.”
And there’s this carrying it down all the back gravel roads home, that call to pick up your cross and come die, past that lights on front porches and at the end of barns lighting up farm yards and warming high up in gable windows, and there’s that:
And there’s all this light that we can see… in the colors and faces of humanity —
the image of God lighting hope in every face, in every possible place.
Related: As Lynne Hybels said: “The antidote to despair is action.”
Actions to Consider: Defy ISIS with us … Join the Esther Project … Live Compassion
Read A Letter To the North American Church: Because it’s Time
A conference like no other: The Justice Conference