Workshop 2- When seeking justice Hurts: How to seek justice without hurting the poor…and yourself!
Global Justice, The Kingdom of God…some of the most important issues
Fikkert is the Director of the Chalmers Center at Covenant College training the church to work amongst the poor that is restorative.
Justice is being able to be what God created you to be.
Poverty is one form of injustice.
Rwandan genocide- there is reconciliation going on in that country with the Hutu and Tutsi tribes.
Church centered savings and credit associations- providing jobs and hope for a nation that was torn apart.
If God doesn’t show up it doesn’t happen. Justice came from Jesus coming down and engaging us in justice.
Example: What are some potential questions you would like answered about the potential organizations before you give a donation?
– How much of the donation is going to administrative cost?
– What do the people you are trying to help want? (a good question because normally we are giving because of what we want)
– Who are the people in the organization?
– Is it done with the locals?
– What have you done with the past?
– Is the organization explicitly Christian?
– What are your long-term goals?
– What is poverty? They have a philosophy of it depending on how they are alleviating the problem.
Cause and Solution:
Lack of knowledge: Education
Oppression by powerful people: Work for social justice
Personal sins of the poor: Evangelism and discipleship
Lack of material things: Greater access to material things
Most Americans define poverty in material terms: lack of income, wealth, food, housing, and healthcare.
Because our worldview that life is material our solutions tend to be material.
The welfare system is from the standpoint that all will be well if people are given material resources.
Simply giving resources to people has crippled people in America.
Even churches do this through soup kitchens and clothing closets.
“Human beings are not candy machines. When you put a coin in someone’s hand it’s not a candy machine. Sweet things do not come from simply giving it away.”
Check out UN report on “Voices of the Poor”
The disconnect of how we see poverty and the way the poor see it is a crisis.
We should understand poverty from the biblical narrative.
Humans were created to be in relationship and give glory to God through their lives.
We have a relationship to God; self; to others; and to the rest of creation.
When we experience these relationships the way God intended, we are living for what we are made for.
There are four types of systems: economic, social, religious, and political.
The way we create culture is a fundamental commitment to expressing ourselves to God, self, others, and the rest of creation.
Example: racism in the South. It was institutional and expressed people’s understanding of God, themselves, others, and the rest of creation economically, socially, in religion, and politically.
Effects of the fall and sin entering our world: brokenness in systems and individual.
Poverty of spiritual intimacy, poverty of being, poverty of community, and poverty of stewardship.
Examples of material poverty: people worship spirits or false gods. Marred identity, inter-tribal conflict, and failure to take dominion (Gen 2). Material resources can hurt those we are trying to help.
Example of animism: outside forces control the material world. Jesus Christ calls the poor to be the ones to have dominion over the creation before us, to be stewards of the resources they have.
“Poverty is the result of relationships that do not work, that are not just, that are not for life, that are not harmonious or enjoyable.” (Bryant Myers in “Walking with the Poor”, 86)
In America people deny God’s existence or a act as thought He is irrelevant, they are workaholics, self-centered, and prideful (God complex). We are all broken and in some form of poverty.
This workshop makes me question in what ways am I poor (spiritual, relationship to self, relationship to others, and the rest of creation)?
If poverty is rooted in broken relationships, “Who are the poor?”
Until we embrace the message that we are poor, our attempts to help the “materially poor” are likely to hurt them and ourselves.
The good news of the gospel is that you and I smell, but Jesus doesn’t. If you think you are better smelling than the poor, it will kill the ministry you have to the poor and it will kill you. Their liberation is bound up with our liberation
Material definition of poverty + God-complexes of materially non-poor + Feelings of inferiority of the materially poor = Harm to both Materially Poor and Non-Poor
– We must repent if we want to look forward. Repent of our definition of poverty and our God-complexes.
Evangelical Gnosticism- God is part of our spiritual lives. The physical and secular are not related.
We must read and understand Colossians 1:19-20
“Reconciliation to all things through Jesus Christ. He is not divorced from this world. He is connected. If poverty is rooted in broken relationships, then we must look to Jesus to reconcile those.”