|Posted by thethousandmarch on June 7, 2008 at 1:44 PM|
Personal morality and social justice are often presented as polar opposites. We are told that a person's sexual practices, their drinking, smoking, cussing habits, and so on, makes them either a moral or immoral person. Now, a moral person can attempt to right societal evils, but only if it doesn't get in the way of proclaiming the Gospel. And their personal holiness must not be compromised by the majority of social activists who are depraved socialists. I do not accept this dichotomy. Jesus said that the greatest commandments are love God and love your neighbor. John says that you don't love God if you don't love your neighbor. So, in my mind social justice is an issue of personal morality. Virtue is more than piety.
Jessi and I recently finished taking classes for a Master Recycling course. We did this for two reasons. First, we wanted to get out into our community and meet some people. We wanted to meet people on common ground, like Jesus, meeting and loving people where they are. We have to do thirty hours of community service in order to complete the course. There will be numerous opportunities for interaction with others based upon our shared values and interests and I'm sure we'll do more than thirty hours.
Second, we believe God has made humans to be stewards of this world. We believe it is our responsibility to take care of the Earth. This, like social justice, is a moral issue, not only because stewardship is an act of obedience and worship, but also because bad stewardship hurts others. For some of our service hours we hope to help educate local churches. We trust this will open doors for them to engage their own neighborhoods. It would be great to see more churches establish material exchanges, community gardens, compost stations, recycling hubs, or food banks.
What does this have to do with church planting? Well, we can't plant a church if we don't get out and meet people. We aren't going to wait for them to come to us. The whole point of church is community. We must seek out people who lack community, and then help form a community where they are welcome. What's the point of community other than to improve each other's lives, to strengthen one another, to care for one another? The Church exists to help individuals have a relationship with God; a relationship that cannot exists without relating to others. The Church exists to help us deal with life, to make sense of it all. The Church exists so that individuals can work together to fight injustice, corruption, repression, exploitation - in short, to love our neighbor. The Church is a community that is intended to help people live life well, doing what they were created to do. I want to help make this happen. I'm not interested in turning people into puritans.