My family talks about this stuff often, and we desire to become more and more effective at doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).
Here’s an interesting article about some of the ways we (typically middle-class Christians in North America) try to help the poor and oppressed. Most importantly, some folks tried to analyze the real impact of these popular ways we try to help. [Click the link below for the article.]
My family pursues a few of these strategies, hoping it will make a real difference. What I find interesting, and telling, is that none of these strategies are really incarnational. That is, they don’t involve us getting too close, too involved, too personally invested, in the people we are trying to help. The gospel, as communicated in the Bible, is inherently incarnational. Could not God have just ‘written a check?’ Perhaps not. So, Christ chose to renounce his privilege and position and distance from the people with the problem – us.
In my family’s discussion of all this, we are finding ourselves more and more drawn to what we know to be the truth; while some help can be offered from a distance, true understanding and true transformation most often requires us to come alongside those we desire to help. This article shows how complex some of these situations really are. Unless we are part of the context, we will almost certainly miss that complexity and come up with a solution that is only partially effective, or one that even makes problems worse!
We are thinking about how we can free ourselves from our self-centeredness, our need for security, approval, or just our stuff – to become free to incarnate in a more fully Christlike way among those who Jesus came to serve and save.