I was here at The Justice Conference #Justice15 this past weekend in Chicago for the third year out of five since the conference was founded. I love these conferences and the speakers (and often their books) have impacted my life in amazing ways. These conferences have changed the way I do life and yet I continue to get absorbed in my own world instead of the suffering world around me. How do I change this? How do I love and respect everyone? How do I put others first on a daily basis? Why is it so hard? We are so caught up in the meaningless things of life that we don't want to accept or open ourselves up to the entirety of what our lives as followers of Christ is completely about. It is so much easier to pretend that the evil that surrounds us isn't really our problem. We go to church, read a devotional and pick up our Bible and think that is enough. The problem is, it's not - at all. God is a God of justice and we cannot completely know Him unless we are loving people in the margins of society on a regular basis. This is what Jesus did - all the time.
In Matthew 16:24-26 Jesus says, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?" At the conference, one of the speakers Neichelle Guidry @ stated, "If you are going to seek the kingdom of God, you must overcome your addiction to comfort." So true, yet every day so hard to do. I am so guilty. Please God, forgive me for continually putting myself first and slipping into the conformity of what surrounds me.
Every conference is unbelievable and inspires me when I feel overwhelmed and exhausted from serving - and reintroduces me to the real world. I feel so conflicted after enjoying a couple days touring the city, seeing friends and then sitting, listening, learning and coming back to the reality of our world. I post photos on FB and Instagram of having fun in the city and then sit and hear stories of and from people who are constantly racially profiled, young girls trafficked, women raped and left for dead in the Congo and then also the discussion of white privilege and what that makes me in our world. How is it that I fail so miserably in all of living for justice?
I try to live my life in a way that shows "I care about justice because I care much about the gospel" - Eugene Cho @ - The truth, however, is that I choose to block it out a lot of the time because it is so hard - even though my work at E4 Project deals with it constantly. I can still manage to shut it out of the other parts of my life. The majority of people in the world don't get to choose that. My newsfeed weeps of stories of injustice and my heart breaks. I come home to new videos of racial injustice and I want to blog, write, yell, advocate, protest and help everyone dealing with injustice. I don't know how.
My husband tells me we cannot do it all. He asks how can I be more involved than I already am when there are so many issues that need our voices. I don't really have an answer for him because what I want to do right now is fly to every city where injustice is occurring and protest, advocate and go to prison if necessary for fighting for those suffering. Isn't this really what we all should be doing as Christ followers? Where is the line? What am I called to do? I am once again struggling with this and what I am to be doing. I think I can do more since I am sitting here writing and wasting time on social media and meaningless tasks every day. There is still more time in my day. I also know that raising my own teenage boys to live well in Christ and being there for my husband are really important too. So where does that leave me? How do I love more? I don't know yet. I just know that I need to put God first and He will show me.
Bob Goff @ said it simply, "You want to be known for justice? Then fill your bucket with love. Love everybody always."
Bob Goff is amazing, took photos with so many of us who love his words
So how do we love everybody? None of us can advocate for everything, but we must all advocate for something. We can also start by loving everyone around us - especially our enemies and people who are difficult in our lives. Pray about what God is calling you to and I will continue to do the same. Let us not ignore what is going on around us. Let's stand up for justice through love and see what happens.
Ann Voskamp writes about this weekend here and says so much of what I want to say and uses so many of the quotes written in my notebook. It was an incredible weekend and I encourage all of you to read her blog post from today as well - she is obviously a little more well versed in this writing thing than I am.
Pastor and Author Eugene Cho
Spoken Words Artist, Micah Bournes