So today at The Justice Conference the speakers included Dr. Walter Brueggemann, Richard Twiss, Rick McKinley, Madelaine Delone, Rachel Lloyd, Dr. John M. Perkins, Shane Claiborne and Ben Cohen, Stephen Bauman, and Francis Chan.
I can’t go through what they all said, but let me unpack some clear understanding that I got in the heap of all the emotion, discussion, and information that I experienced with about 4,000 other conference-goers.
1. Our view of the gospel must not be divorced from the concept and actuality of the need of justice. The gospel is God’s justice for sinners in order for us to be reconciled to him. Dr. Perkins said “The gospel itself is an expression of justice” and that today we are on the edge of revival that God will work through justice returning as central in gospel proclamation.
2. I need to think through the significance and role of “neighbor” theologically and practically so that I can be informed on how to love them because as Rick McKinley said, “The challenge is trying to figure out what we do about justice in our ordinary life.”
3. I need to engage the international church and hear the voices of Christians from different cultures and nationalities in order to recognize my need for them to live with unity and the way the gospel has impacted their culture. Richard Twiss spoke of how First Nations cultures have been forced to become culturally “white” in North American churches. Twiss said, “An unattended area of justice is hermeneutics, we must rescue theology from the cowboys so it does not become a tool of injustice.”
4. The causes we see as needs to be dealt with in social justice such as sex trafficking, poverty, and war have root issues. In order to even begin to understand how to deal with an issue we must know the root causes of it. For example, Madeline Delone from the Innocence Project talked about wrongful imprisonment and conviction can mainly be caused by witness misidentification, untrue confession, false testimony, faulty or misreading of scientific/DNA evidence, racism, and poverty. After talking about root causes Delone was able to express how change can happen. Rachel Lloyd also did this in her discussion of sex trafficking.
5. Shane Claiborne and Ben Cohen talked about how economic restructuring and spending less on military endeavors could help us solve part of the perceived budget crisis and help us spread justice across America and the world.
6. Stephen Bauman from World Relief reminded us that “Justice wears skin and people live in injustice everyday.” He helped me to know my emotions were pointing me in the right direction: injustice awakens us, we hit a wall of complexity, hold the long line on the issue you choose to go after, find a teacher/mentor, and know the issues well.
7. Finally though, Francis Chan just read the Bible for what seemed the first half of his presentation; he read the many verses dealing with God and justice. He challenged us to “Live life like you believe in eternity” by giving ourselves and possessions away and to “Stop playing it safe!”
I also came away with some questions for reflection. Here are a few that I want to share with you:
1. What does justice mean to me?
2. How do I honor everyone?
3. How do I become infused by grace to create shalom?
4. How do I overcome apathy and self-interest?
5. How can I use art as a medium to express my feelings about suffering?
6. What does it look like and mean to live a life like you believe in eternity?
7. How do I share these great needs with people in my church without overwhelming them and have them blow me off?
I hope that you enjoy these gleanings, but I want you to know that I plan on blogging and discussing justice often now that I have a better informed handle on it and the importance it has coupled with the gospel and practical living as a neighbor.
Make sure to check out my summary of day 1:http://t.co/uAWcWakv