Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Mercy Me - Life through a lens

We have finished the series Mercy Me and I honestly think it was a God moment for us as a Church and for me personally as I allowed God to ask me the questions. Will finished the series with a very challenging conversation; I have asked him to blog it so I give you Mr Will MacLaughlin:

Mercy Me - Life through a lens.

Our perceptions are coloured and distorted by our own experiences, beliefs and culture, so that we view everything through our own unique and personal lens.

My own 'unique and personal lens' involves being brought up in a western country (western culture included as part of the deal) by western parents, wandering along to western churches and attending western schools, with my predominantly western friends ... you wouldn't really have to be a CSI to work out that being 'western' has played a massive role in my life!

I've also chosen to descrive myself as a follower of Christ, a Christian, a believer or what ever other term you wish to use ... so I become a western Christian, and my lens is altered and adapted ... but what if the lens didn't just need modified? What if it needed replacing?

The Bible seems fairly clear that God has a burning passion for those who are denied justice, for those who are oppressed, for those who are deprived of basic rights. He also seems to speak with force and directness, declaring that He will not tolerate such abuses, because of the impact such crimes have on justice, righteousness, honesty and truth.

So what has that got to do with little old me? It's governments and multi national corporations who cause the slave trade, child labour, poor conditions, unfair pay, cruelty and abuse ... not me! I give to charity, I help those people who are enslaved, who are robbed of justice, who are viciously oppressed!

BUT if I look through God's lens then I HAVE to recognise that my power and privilege is built on a foundation of injustice, and maintained through continued oppression and a removal of rights for many.

It's much easier for me to see the disadvantages of the poor and the deprivation of those suffering injustice and try to help them througn charity and aid, than it is to target the power and privilege I enjoy at their expense. To do that means I'll need to sacrifice, I'll need to lay aside power and privilege, I'd need to make the choice to give up what I have, in pursuit of something that will help others ... I'd need to be like Jesus.

I can claim ignorance about some issues, I can claim that I'm uninformed maybe, possibly even misinformed ... but can I claim innocence? No ... I don't believe I can.

What about you?
Ignorant? Uninformed? Misinformed? Innocent?


Anonymous said...

What are some of the local issues of social injustice or are we doing great here?

Anonymous said...

If we see social justice through God's lens then I think we need to see social justice as a way of ensuring that people are treated with the dignity and respect that Jesus would afford them, and we would work to equip and empower them to realise their full potential.

If we adopted that idea then I think it throws a whole different slant on the subject ... widening the scope of how we see injustice ... making it much more of an everyday issue, that we CAN have an impact on, rather than seeing it as something that we're powerless to change.

In local terms there're a number of areas where social injustice is an issue ... where people aren't treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, and where they aren't equipped or empowered to realise their potential.

What about foreign workers being treated equally in our businesses?
What about Northern Ireland's role in human-trafficking? (For newslink see below) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/6703471.stm
What about our children's rights to have a childhood?
What about our children's rights not to feel labelled a failure at 10-11?
What about the right's of our elderly to be treated with dignity and respect in good living conditions?

The list could go on ... social injustice is happening every day within Northern Ireland, if we view justice through God's lens.

How do we react is the big question.

For example, it's easy to say the sex trade is wrong ... but that achieves nothing.
What we need to do is press our councils to look into the matter further, we need to talk with police, we need to care for our foreign neighbours, time and time again we have to write the letters and have conversations that ask the difficult questions, to ensure that action is taken.
Maybe we do all of the above, but then we buy the Playboy labelled merchandise because it's a funky logo, the kids like it, it's fashionable ... but it stands as an international symbol of exploitation and degredation of women.

This topic is huge ... and I know at Vineyard Church Dungannon the heartfelt desire is to fight injustice ... which is awesome, but it takes time, it takes effort, it takes energy ... and it means we have to ask hard questions of ourselves and of our community.

Personally I think we, as a church, as a community, and as a nation, aren't doing well on social justice at all ...I believe our power and privilege is built on the back of oppressing others ... and I think all too often we do things that salve our conscience, but that don't really fight injustice! However I also firmly believe that if we begin to look through God's lens, we'll begin to see things differently, we'll begin to take more action, and we'll begin to see change ... I hope, pray and believe that Mercy Me, for us as a church, is the beginning of that journey!

ylmurph said...

I'll sign up for skype if you'd update this with a new post