Servant’s Heart from the desk of a deacon
The Diaconal Programme of this Diocese says clearly that Deacons are called (among other things) to be justice makers, so I thought we might talk about what one can do to be a justice maker.
Justice, at its centre, is about relationships; our relationships with God, with each other, with ourselves, and with all creation. God calls us, and Deacons especially, to restore relationships through the pursuit of justice, and to challenge lifestyles, choices and systems so that all may have the opportunity to participate fully in community as image-bearers of God. Seeking justice is a spiritual discipline, a tangible way for us to express our faith by obeying the commands to love God and to love our neighbour as ourselves. Since everyone has a different idea of what justice is and how it ought to be done, I went to a favourite website about justice making, and found the following nine ideas about the subject, that might be helpful.
- Be ready to sacrifice – The gift of the Spirit is both a privilege and a responsibility. Following Jesus means surrendering to God’s purposes and not our own, which requires sacrifice. Surrender and sacrifice can be scary and difficult, but the love of the God we serve is so much greater.
- Seek relationships with people who are struggling – One of the greatest gifts that we can give to one another is to know each other. Being in relationship with people is how we testify to the fact that the God who unites us is stronger than the barriers that divide us.
- Listen – Enter into the stories of others. Listen for what’s behind the pain that people are experiencing, and identify systemic injustices that are contributing to their suffering.
- Lean into the mess – Too often we shy away from tension, but that is not what we see Jesus doing in the gospels. Jesus embraced people in all their brokenness. He didn’t require them to have everything figured out beforehand.
- Seek the well-being of others – Christians are called to reject self-centeredness and apathy. If we follow Jesus’ model, then we are called to radical kindness and generosity. The gospel is about abundance, not scarcity.
- Don’t be afraid to get political – We cannot draw boundaries around God or where God calls us to work. In fact we have a responsibility to engage as citizens and churches in our communities, nation, and world. As Christians, we can embrace the opportunities that God offers us to impact the laws of our nation.
- Leverage your power – Use social media. Write letters. Meet with your MLA’s and MP’s. As your awareness and understanding of issues increase, be sure to help raise the awareness of others.
- Work with others – We are at our best when we are working together in community. Not only does this allow us to build stronger relationships with others, but it challenges and stretches us in meaningful ways that allow us to grow.
- Be willing to step aside – Those who are suffering should be at the centre of our advocacy. It’s not about us garnering attention but about ensuring that the needs of others are being met.
I offer these suggestions as a way that we might become justice makers, if we are not there already. So, let us begin, now, to challenge the injustices we see all around us. Start small, and start soon!