Ever feel overwhelmed by so many needs and so much injustice in the world that you end up paralyzed and do very little? I was feeling that way and Dr. Soong-Chan Rah gave me some insight in how to respond when there are so many causes and so little time. I was at a special gathering planned by CCDA and World Relief to inform leaders like myself about the need for immigration reform. Sitting with me were Troy Jackson and Kirsten Strand, two good friends and leaders who have a great understanding about restorative justice issues. In the middle of this gathering I began to feel convicted about the need to give clear Biblical teaching and take a stand on this issue. But at the same time I also felt like this was one more justice issue I was being challenged to champion. The list keeps growing: immigration, education, home ownership, homelessness, hunger, environmental/green issues, women's rights/leadership, pro-life, human trafficking, racism, etc. Feeling overwhelmed I confided in Troy and Kirsten, "There are so many injustice issues I feel convicted about, but it also can be overwhelming. So how do I decide which issues to invest my time?" Troy advised me, "See that guy sitting across the table, that is Soong-Chan Rah of North Park University. He has planted a church, pastored a church and has written & taught on issues of restorative justice, you need to ask him for some coaching." So, I did exactly that. I set up an appointment with Dr. Rah and here are some of my take-aways from that conversation:
- IT'S OK TO PRIORITiZE. One of my best take-aways from our conversation was the permission I got from Dr. Rah that I didn't have to provide leadership for all of these causes. Having someone with his understanding and wisdom tell me, "It's ok for leaders and churches to prioritize one justice issue over the others" was tremendously freeing. He encouraged me to be informed on many, teach the truth on all of them, but provide leadership for just one or two.
- ASK "WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?" This is the question that led Jesus to tell the parable of the Good Samaritan and this is the right question to help us understand where we should prioritize our efforts to bring about justice. What makes this such a good question is that it is a question about context and relationship. Thanks to Dr. Rah (and Jesus) this will be one of the driving questions for me.
- DO WHAT IS GOOD FOR THE KINGDOM. The temptation will be to take up a cause that is currently acceptable by your church or your constituency. Resist this temptation. Don't take up a cause that is good for you. Don't take up a cause that is good for your church. Take up a cause that is good for the Kingdom of God. Simply put, do what the Kingdom needs!
The Bible speaks very clearly on so many injustices that are taking place everyday. Sitting on the sidelines and doing nothing is not acceptable. So take the advice I got from Dr. Rah and prioritize by asking "who is my neighbor?" and act on what is good for the Kingdom and not you!