Jesus and Justice

Early Saturday morning, January 26, Amy Baarda and I made our way to the University of Guelph. What were we to expect? Who would be coming to a Jesus and Justice conference like this? Registration over, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many younger folks—students and young adults—gathered in the meeting hall. I was by far one of the oldest, but that was wonderful—it tells me that God who was at work in the past, is at work in the present and will also be at work in the future. He IS faithful, Hallelujah.
We began with a time of worship.
Then we heard from:
Joyce Reese and Jessica DiSabatino, who work at an East End Drop in Centre in Vancouver. As they prepared meals FOR people they soon realized that in order to CONNECT with people they needed to PREPARE and then EAT the meals together WITH the people that were coming to the Drop In Centre. They used the Bible story of the Samaritan woman to illustrate how difficult it must have been the disciples to be going into Samaria —a land of sinners. Jesus showed them AND us that in order for the Gospel to connect with people so justice may rule, we have to go where we might feel uncomfortable .
Michael Krause shared how Jesus in Matthew 9:36 had “compassion” on people because they were like sheep without a shepherd. He asked: What do you SEE when you look at the world? When Jesus walked the earth he SAW people. The journey of justice starts with opening our eyes and SEE the people.
We need to get close, SEE and HEAR their story. We have become masters in keeping messiness away from us but we need to take action. Compassion is a call to action. We ARE sent!
Mark Wollenberg emphasized that the Church of Christ is to be a prophetic voice in speaking the truth to those in power. He used the example of Jesus’ speaking the truth to “teachers of the law and Pharisees” in Matthew 23. Today the church is sent with that prophetic voice to make a difference in the lives of the poor, hungry and disadvantaged. However, in order to do so, we need to be close to those who are in that situation—for only when we are close to them can we live the example Jesus gave us.
Sam Inocenco from the Philippines talked about cybersex and shared how modern day “slavery” is growing, and existing on a vast scale where laws are not enforced. He referred to the movie Rescue Me (which can be watched online) which offers a better understanding of human trafficking.
Randy Watson had this message for us “Justice doesn’t happen without connectedness.” He said: Go, build relationships, develop friendships, and opportunities will occur. He ended with quoting Galatians 6:2, “ Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Amy and I left with a desire in our hearts to learn to SEE like Jesus saw, to HEAR like He heard, to CONNECT like He connected, and to LOVE as He loved.

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