Just a few days ago, we listened to a talk by one of the Intervarsity staff. She was speaking about the Gospel, and how God's kingdom on earth (which is here right now!) is a kingdom of justice, where the poor, the orphan, and the foreigner are cared for, and the privileged, wealthy, and powerful steward their resources, knowing that they earned them only by God's grace. Jesus identified, owned, and overcame our sin, and because of that, we are freed from personal, relational, and systemic sin. She said, "Living in the kingdom means that justice is available to all. Jesus gave his life to save people's lives, and that includes alleviating injustice."
In order to meditate on this hope, we were challenged this week to share stories of hope from our lives with each other and with friends at our ministry sites. But the best hope stories I heard this week, by far, were from my friend Martin who lives on the East side.
Ten years ago, Martin was working as a paleta (popsicle) seller on his bike, when he was robbed at gunpoint. He gave over everything he had, but as he rode away, he was shot in the neck. Martin was paralyzed from the next down and is now wheelchair-bound. But since then, Martin has discovered the love and provision of Christ, and he told this story to our church on the East side, La Luz en El Barrio, as a testimony to the power of God's Word. God took a situation that was hopeless in the world's eyes and used it to bring hope to me, our church and the East side community.
Throughout SAUP, we have engaged with a variety of topics that have been enlightening and challenging. This week, we continued to explore justice and hope as we live in solidarity with the impoverished.
I realized the individual responsibility that we all have in perpetuating injustice as well as the choice we have to partner with God in order to help with the restoration process.
The root of injustice is sin and sin manifests in three areas - personal, relational and systemic. Personal is individual brokenness which then influences your connections with God and others. These impacted relationships then contribute to the culture and society resulting in systemic issues. For example, we discussed human trafficking and traced its roots to personal sin. It begins with someone lusting or dealing with anger - evolving to sexual immorality between people and the objectification of women - and then leads to the global trafficking ring.
While it's convicting and hard coming to terms with the personal responsibility we have to the growing injustice of the world, I was encouraged by the message of hope and restoration that Jesus brings in the suffering servant passage - Isaiah 42. We looked at the characteristics of the servant, Jesus, whose role was / is to bring people out of their darkness (justice). He embodies characteristics such as being chosen by God, single-minded, devoted, humble, tenacious, nurturing, calm and strives to bring God glory.
As a Christian and follower of Jesus, these are characteristics I strive to cultivate in my life in order to love and serve others well. I desire change in the world and want to say yes to partnering with Christ to be His servant that brings restoration. SAUP has shown me that injustice has faces. Injustice is personal. But so is the solution. Hope is personal. Hope is real. May we continue to strive upwards and onwards.