A blog about my journey - through life, family, our non-profit, Africa, poverty, justice, nature, faith, hope & the calm that can be found though out.
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
With Liberty and Justice for All
“Perhaps the greatest strength of the Liberty Bell is the way it symbolizes the never ending quest for freedom and the need to be remain forever vigilant, for liberties gained, can also be lost.” – NPS Sign at Liberty Bell
Our organization, E4 Project, was involved in The Justice Conference last weekend in Philadelphia. We were exhibitors there, and four of us spent time sharing about the work that we are doing with our national ministry partners in Gabon and DR Congo. It was such a great place to hold a conference about biblical justice and the injustices in our society and the world. We connected with so many amazing ministries serving Christ and His people around the world.
I spent the last afternoon in Philadelphia visiting the sites – mainly the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. As I had just spent the weekend discussing and learning more about what it means to be “just” – the way God calls us to be, it was striking to stand at the Liberty Bell and think about all it has stood for throughout time.
We grow up saying the Pledge of Allegiance, but I don’t think we really listen to what we are saying, “with liberty and justice for all” That just does not exist for so many people in our own country and around the world. Liberty is living in a state of freedom without oppression. Our Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” Do we truly believe this? If we believe that all people are created equal, don’t we have a long way to go to see that this vision starts to play out in our own country and around the world? 27 million men, women and children are held as slaves (Kevin Bales, Disposable People) in our world today. This exists in the U.S., as well as around the world. The inequity in our society grows wider every day as more Americans fall below the poverty line, while the extremely wealthy make more money. What are we doing about this?
Definition of Liberty – the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life.
The Justice Conference and my time in Philadelphia was an awesome experience and reminder of what God wants me to do with my life – give it away to those less fortunate than me. Sometimes, I think that many of us Christians don’t focus on this as we go about our day to day life. We think we are following Christ, but we are more like goats than sheeps (Matthew 25). I want to stand before God and know that I gave my life away for Him and took care of His people around the world and in my own community and country. Lord, help me seek this everyday as my sole purpose for living. It is so easy to get distracted by the things of this world, and it happens to me all the time. I just continue to pray that God will lead me back to his heart and my true calling as a Christ follower.
It always helps to go to a conference and hear amazing speakers such as Dr. John Perkins (Civil Rights leader and author), Gary Haugen (founder of International Justice Mission and author), Lynne Hybels (Co-founder of Willow Creek Church), Ken Wytsma (founder of the Justice Conference and author), Shane Clairborne (author and founder of the Simple Way) and so many more…..we get all excited in our call to be “just” and not to just “do justice”, but then life gets busy again and we lose our momentum at times. I love that Gary Haugen spoke about the tedious, messy and hard work serving other people is. He said, “Love that conquers monotony, tedium and the uninteresting – on most days this is the kind of love that most people need – people are all worthy of a love that won’t go away”. In order to see the amazing stories and awesome endings to God’s works of justice through organizations, churches and people, we have to go through years and years of hard work and often very tedious work. It helps to remember this as we move forward in our ministry and each day in my own life.
I pray for the day when we can say “with liberty and justice for all”, and truly see that as Christians we have made a significant difference in the world around us for ALL people.
I would love for friends and family to join us at Justice2014 in L.A. next February – especially all of my Orange County friends since it is so close. Check it out at The Justice Conference.
We live out our call most fully when we are a community of faith with arms wrapped about a community of pain.” John M. Perkins