Sunday, March 28, 2010

Welcoming "Reform"

"Let's look at the word "reform."  In essence, it is an attempt to fix what is broken.  The health care system was working for some and not working for others.  All this unnecessary drama over something that was broken and needed fixing.  Let's have some civility here and stop the name calling.  This is not socialism, Marxism, or Fascism, or whatever -ism is your favorite hate-filled word.  The best of what government can do is to look out for the well being of all people, not just the privileged few.  It won't always get it right, but I like to see the government at least try." (taken from a blog post by Dr. Soong-Chan Rah)

Too often we emphasize individual sin and neglect systematic/structural sins in our society.  If we ourselves as individuals are sinful, the systems we create are by default sinful as well.  It seems then that "reform" (aka 'an attempt to fix what is broken') should be something that we welcome instead of resist.  Whether it's reform to our education, immigration, criminal justice, or health care systems (etc.).

As Christ followers, instead of reacting with hostility and angst when the word "reform" gets tagged alongside anything, let's welcome it recognizing that the sinful systems we've created will always need to be reformed.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Fresh Take

I posted this on another blog site that my bible study on Wednesday nights keeps up with.  It's primarily talking about the passage in Luke 10:25-37 about the Good Samaritan.  Thought I'd share it on here as well, especially since I've been slack recently about keeping this updated:

The main point of this story growing up has always been about how to be like the Good Samaritan.  With our task being to try to live a more compassionate life and extending mercy to those in need.  There are obviously more things you can draw out from this passage, but for the most part this is the main message that is communicated.

I think the fact that the focal point of the story is an interaction between a Jew and a Samaritan can’t be overlooked.  We know from Sunday school and from sermons that there was hostility between the two but it’s not something that truly resonates with us.  Here are a few real life examples that I wrote down that help me (and hopefully you too) put it into perspective:
  • Native Americans (oppressed) and early European colonialists (oppressors)
  • Jews (oppressed) and Nazis (oppressors)
  • African slaves (oppressed) and White slave owners (oppressors)
  • Undocumented immigrants (oppressed) and “Americans" (oppressors)
You could take any of those instances and plug them into the story and it gives the same effect.  For example, if Jesus was living in Nazi Germany and was talking to an audience of Nazis and explained that it was a Jew who was the neighbor to the wounded Nazi on the side of the road imagine the uproar.  It most definitely would not be a footnote.  Or if Jesus lived during the time when there was slavery in America.  Imagine Jesus telling this story to a bunch of White slave owning southerners and it was an African slave (who to them was 3/5 of a person at best) who was the neighbor to the wounded white slave owner imagine the uproar. Again, it would definitely not be a footnote.

Luke doesn't necessarily capture the scene that I'm almost certain ensued but that shouldn't take away from the fact that it is central to the story.

Last night I suggested that the story of the Good Samaritan is all about Reconciliation.  Not just racial reconciliation as it might come off, but Reconciliation.  Reconciliation is not just about race.  Though race is a huge part of it, the Reconciliation that God calls us to be about includes every system in the human world (socioeconomic, family, gender, etc.).

The Gospel simply doesn't reconcile us to God but it also reconciles us to others.  That's why this story is to key.  Two people, polar opposites, and the neighbor (the oppressed one) helps the wounded man (oppressor) and they are reconciled to one another.

I really hope that doesn't come off as harsh.  We are no where near that point.  I just happened to use extreme examples (Jews and Nazis for example) to drive my point home.

Maybe you know the feeling of getting home from a mission trip, service project, or something like that and we have this overwhelming feeling like 
we've been the ones changed.  Showing that in more cases then we want to admit, we need these kind of relationships that are living giving both ways (reciprocal relationships).

Examining our own lives, where are situations where we can let others love, encourage, and teach us?  Especially from people we would least likely expect to receive love, encouragement, and learn from.  Like Kyle said, we're almost taught to have this Christian mindset where we need to be going out and sharing our faith and living out the Gospel to be a light to others.  But what if being in that mindset causes us to not see our need for others.  Maybe we need someone who fits that 'Good Samaritan' mold in our lives and are incomplete and lacking when we don't allow those kind of reciprocal relationships to form.

Let us pray that God would give us the eyes to see and the heart to receive love and encouragement from co-workers, non-believers, those on the margins of society, and those who we would least likely expect.  And pray that God would reveal to us our need to cross all barriers for the Gospel.