As some of you know, I have been working at a local county hospital and have been struck by the way injustice is the norm. I shouldn’t be surprised, but people who speak different languages than me (literally and as a manifestation of different levels of education, etc) receive different medical care than those who do. They show up with gangrenous gallbladders and perforated appendices instead of mild abdominal pain (that leads to full diagnostic work-up and an elective surgery rather than an emergent one).
I have also seen some of the most compassionate surgeons, nurses, you-name-its daily fighting injustice with their compassion and excellence of skill.
Yet, I find the local, national, and international violence and hatred and darkness so hard to fight and to reconcile. I can’t rationalize it. Exactly, I CAN’T RATIONALIZE THE INJUSTICES OF THIS WORLD!
In college (classic) I began to look deeper into the fact that there was a world outside of Orange County and the Point Loma bubble (both predominantly white and wealthy). There was a world of differences more local than my short mission trips across the border. In my search, I found people of very different socio-economic/racial/geographic/… backgrounds than me. I found myself curious and sucked into a community of friends on the streets of SD and in a church in the inner city filled with people united by their desire to know Christ (and in most cases that was the only thread of commonality) or who just liked/needed free food (don’t we all?).
“White privilege” and “white guilt” and other such phrases crept into my vocabulary and I felt totally spoiled and selfish and unworthy of the time and place God has put me in.
Thankfully, I found a lot of wisdom from a man who doesn’t claim to have a lot of answers but instead faithfully wrestles with the world and moves in acts of mercy. Seeing this man embrace Cambodian babies and then loudly (screeching at times) preach the gospel and often cry “how long, Lord” (echoing the saints gathered around the throne in the book of revelation 6:10) was a beautiful picture of authentic faith. [see his most recent blog post here]
A big thing that I learned from him is it is good to wrestle with scripture, to spend time deep in prayer, to go to church gatherings; but we can’t just stay inside ourselves. We have to get out there and kiss screaming babies with dirty noses and talk sports with (former?) meth addicts–or in my current time and place: get elbow deep in a pool of Hepatitis C contaminated wound to save the arm of a guy who has tattoos that reveal incredibly dark and evil belief systems (read: swastika).
Do this because the people deserve these acts of mercy? Doesn’t matter. We do this because it was what Jesus did. He met the Samaritan woman in the mid-day (read: reject time) at the well and he knew her sin (read: she was sleeping around) and did what no one else would do (not even the holy leaders): He accepted her. (John 4) That’s mercy.
So how do we start to engage injustice? I don’t know. But prayer and searching for the movement of the Holy Spirit and daring to cross invisibly visible boundaries seems like a good start.
And how do we walk humbly? Recognizing that we are in the exact time and place and socioeconomic situation that we are in because that is where God has placed us (Acts 17:26). And recognizing that we are blessed because of the faith OF Christ on the cross. He paid our debt. He suffered for all our mess ups and our injustices and our inability to be merciful and gracious. He takes away our guilt. He sent the Holy Spirit and allows us to participate in his restorative work, not because he needs us to make sacrifices (refer back to Acts 17), but because he wants us to be a part of the Kingdom of Heaven now, on this broken earth.
Pray for God to reveal the ways you live in systems of injustice. I have and it sucks to see how messed up I am to other people, to family, and loved ones on top of countless strangers. Maybe you’ll see the way you are actively a light in darkness, already being used through the Holy Spirit. Pray for reconciliation.
Pray thanksgiving for the mercy showered on us by the gory death of the perfect Son of God on the cross. Pray to be a person of mercy because you have first been shown mercy.
And pray thanks for Christ’s humility that we might become more humble, that we might see how everything in our lives is a grace–a gift–from God.
Thanks for reading. Pray with and for me. Pray that God continues to reveal himself as the world struggles. Pray that anything not of God in my post not take root in other’s lives. Pray that the conversation and that merciful action continue.
Inspired by bible readings, conversations with friends, encounters in the hospital, sermons by Tim Keller, blog posts by John Wright.