Often when people visit The Well, they tell us how they really enjoy our worship gatherings. Being a bit partial, I tend to agree. It is always a blessing to see and hear different people taking part in our liturgy each week. It is often moving to pray to and worship God together in song along with our gifted worship band. Coming together as a community to celebrate the work of Christ each week in Communion is also an amazing privilege. Not enough can be said about spending time socializing and catching up before and after the gathering…

But, is all of this pointless? Is God fed up with our worship gatherings? Is he sick of our “noisy ego music” as Eugene Peterson puts in The Message?

“I can’t stand your religious meetings.
I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
your pretentious slogans and goals.
I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes,
your public relations and image making.
I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
I want justice–oceans of it.
I want fairness–rivers of it.
That’s what I want. That’s all I want.”

Amos 5:21-24

This is a scary passage…

This week at The Well we had the privilege of hearing Brad, Samantha and Shanna discuss “Social Justice.” They had an amazing conversation about the connection (or lack-there-of) between our worship and social justice. The following are my notes from the message, some quotes from our discussion, and some commentary by me. Hope you find it helpful as you reflect on our time together…

Some thoughts from the stage:

Q: Why are you passionate about Social Justice?
– Sammy: “Social Justice and who I am as a Christian have to go together…”
– Shanna: “I can’t be me and not be involved in social justice…”

What great statements.

Read Amos 2:6-8 – Notice how Israel was guilty of some major sins in relation to the poor…

Q: What are some of the social injustices in our day?
– Why are children in this country hungry?
– Why are people homeless?
– Failure to protect those who can’t even think of protecting themselves (teens, young women)
– Women who are prostituted and take advantage of
– The top 1% of the wealthiest people America own 90% of the wealth
– The prison system is screwed up financially with many injustices.
– Killing of innocent on the streets by guns
– Putting our kids in harms way of sexual predators
– Selfish Parents
– As parents, not equipping our children to live and keep God first.
– The attitude of injustice that people are only valued for what they can offer to society when they should be valued for being a human being.

It is clear that we need to be involved in social justice. Everyone knows that. It’s really a no-brainer right? But, if most of us are honest, there is a strong disconnect between what we say and what we do. Leonard Sweet writes in his book “Out of the Question, Into the Mystery”:

“Its so popular to talk about poor people, as Mother Teresa often lamented. But its not nearly as popular to talk to poor people. The issue is not on what principles of justice and freedom do you stand, but on what freedom roads are you traveling?”

Q: What are the Biggest Hindrances (read: excuses) to actually being involved in Social Justice:
– Ignorance: I just don’t know where there is injustice
– Not sure how to act, what to do
– Time: letting so much slip out of your hands
– Serving is inconvenient to my life
– Feeling like I don’t have anything to offer people.
– If you take it seriously, it changes the way you want to live.
– How much are you willing to give? How much time are you willing to give away?
– When you get into it, it changes your definition of personal crisis

Why many of us don’t get involved in social justice probably comes from a combination of many of these reasons. For me, I think the biggest one is that it will simply change the way that I want to live. It is often seen as an intrusion to my life. I was convicted of this selfish perspective yesterday morning.

Still, Questions remain: What do we do? How can we get involved?

Some thoughts:
Keep it simple. As Shanna said, “Often, social justice means helping the person who God has put in front of me.”
Check your finances. Think pray and act on how you handle your money God has given you.
Get your hands dirty. Leonard Sweet states, “The poor don’t need money or resolutions so much as they need our relationship.”
Do it in community. Check for ways your church is getting involved. At The Well, get connected with a Neighborhood Group or something that a Neighborhood Group is already involved with.

Jesus is perhaps the greatest example of mind and action. How many times do you see Him “have compassion” and then act (Matthew 9:36, Matthew 14:14, Matthew 15:32, Matthew 20:34, Mark 1:41). For Jesus, there is no such thing as compassion without action. I am pretty sure, when there is no action its just pity…

The simple fact is this: Worship and action cannot be separate.
Let’s work hard to find ways to put feet to our faith. Let’s pray together and converse together on how we can be involved in being a blessing to our world…

Any more thoughts out there? Any suggestions? Comments? Questions? Add to this conversation in the comments section below…