Lives of Justice

There exists in Boston a group of [for the most part] young Christians who meet regularly to pray about, strategize about, and organize a “Christian movement in Greater Boston more deeply aware of injustices and capable of responding through service, learning, and advocacy.” I’ve blogged about this group before — about how blessed we have been to have found a network of like-minded believers, and about how God seems to be leading us to make changes in us first.

Of course, the rationale for followers of Jesus to live lives of righteousness and justice (often synonyms in the Bible) is extensive, and (in my opinion), off the table in terms of discussion. We are to care for the poor, the widows, the orphans, those without a voice. Period. And we have come to the conclusion that “charity” is simply not enough — we must lead lives that seek to minimize hurt in our world and allow our hearts to be broken by what break’s God’s heart (as Tony Campolo says).

This is especially hard in America, whose capitalistic economy is driven by low prices, competition, mass production, and “the American Dream.” In this system, the poor of the world are used to produce, grow, build, or distribute for the very wealthy, while nine times out of ten remaining poor. We should know this when we shop at a big-box retailer for our groceries, pump $3/gallon gas at Exxon, assemble a baby’s crib, or eat at a fast food restaurant. Our most mundane decisions affect people all over the world, because we’re at the top of the “food chain” (so to speak) and many of those below us … well … work for us.

At our last meeting, the BFJN Global Poverty Action Team presented 7 commitments they were proposing for our network to live lives that leave a “smaller footprint” on the poor and on our natural resources. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Purchase fair trade coffee and gifts
2. Purchase and use sustainably harvested wood products [and we were delighted to find out that both IKEA and Home Depot are socially conscious in this way]
3. Don’t buy bottled water
4. Donate to locally based (meaning in the affected nations) development organizations
5. Shop at thrift stores for clothing
6. Fast from meat
7. Fast and donate the money you saved to a development organization, and use that mealtime for spiritual reflection and service

Oh, and instead of buying the “person who has everything” another piece of junk they don’t need this Christmas, how about planting a tree in Uganda in their name … which is cared for by a poor village … which receives money from The Kibo Group … that sends more Ugandan kids to school …

Obviously these are just a few of the many ways we can begin to live more just lives. We can lobby our government if we want to, but ultimately, change begins with each one of us.

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