Well, I should have at least introduced you by now. Blog readers, meet Justice Project...Justice Project, meet blog readers.
I am going to chronicle at least some of our journey here on the blog...since it's a Jesus-sized undertaking. I need somewhere to write all of this down. Join me in a divine experiment!
What is it?
A group of people in Charlotte, NC, (our entire church being among that group) have adopted a neighborhood that is listed as "fragile" in terms of crime rate, teenage pregnancy, drop-out rates, etc. It is a poorer neighborhood near downtown Charlotte (off Clanton Rd. if you're from around here).
We believe that God has called ALL Christians to serve the poor, fight for the marginalized, and provide for the widows and orphans. Particularly through Isaiah 58: 6-9"This is the kind of fast day I'm after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts. What I'm interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families. Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once.Your righteousness will pave your way. The God of glory will secure your passage. Then when you pray, God will answer. You'll call out for help and I'll say, 'Here I am.' (THE MESSAGE)
Of course, this is certainly not the only passage that calls us to help the poor. I was amazed just the other day to read in Galatians that when some of the Apostles were determining HOW to move forward, they agreed on this: they needed to take care of the poor among them. (Galatians 2:10...) Paul says "They [James, Peter, John] only asked us to remember the poor--the very thing I also was eager to do."
Proverbs 28:27 He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses. [YIKES!]
I won't go on and on here. No one could really refute the notion of Jesus' preference for the poor, as God's heart is laid out all over the Scriptures on this point.
But the tough question becomes...so, what do I do about it? Well, a sharp answer would be, "Something."
A kinder answer, would be, ask God to show you, and meanwhile...raise your awareness of the needs in your own backyard. Look at people as people, and don't label them as "lazy," "unemployed," "shiftless," etc. When you ask God to show you, look for the answer. It may well be the "beggar" you see on the street corner...and you may NOT know what he'll do with a handout. But you might just be Jesus' hand reaching out to him, giving him a cold bottle of water and a sandwich or a hard-earned five dollar bill.
So, it's not really just about writing out checks. It's our attitude that we must check at the door of Godliness.
We officially started our journey last Saturday; but really, it started a while back. And for the record, this is NOT "hey, pat me on the back because I'm doing something good." I am trying to sort out what this all means as I go, too. I don't know many homeless people, and am not going to be giving out my guest bed anytime soon...I don't think. Just trying to figure out how to trust and obey...and get over myself.
More on these topics throughout this week...