Dangerous Act: Living and Bankrupt

The Dangerous Act of Loving Your NeighborSo far, we have talked about the importance of paying attention, seeing, and naming and how all of those speak to the injustices of our hearts. In today’s post, we take a look at our freedom to act. “We come to the subject of acting at this point not because it is sequentially the last of the three (after perceiving and naming), nor because it is third in importance, but because the visibility of our actions wrongly inflates their importance just as the invisibility of our perceiving and naming wrongly deflates their importance (pg 161).”

Our actions matter. I recall growing up and hearing people debate about the issues of the day. Adults would defend their positions as right while making the case that another’s position is wrong. At times, some of them would even verbalize their intentions to take action on their positions. In an effort to call their bluff, the opponent would say, “Put your money where your mouth is.” In other words, our talk is cheap. When we truly are convicted of something, we vote with our feet and with our pocketbooks. If people begin leaving your organization or if they stop buying your product, it’s an indication that they are no longer with you.

Our actions are the true indicators of what is going on in our hearts. Luke writes, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man bring evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks (Luke 6:45 [NIV]).” So when we have conversations about justice, we are not simply talking about what’s right or wrong (though that is part of it). The conversation of biblical justice actually centers on the heart and character of God. Because God is good and just, we seek just actions and respond to injustices in the world.

“God’s justice is God’s character in action, and so God intends for our character to be just as well. We are free to act justly, we just don’t. In that failure we are unjust towards ourselves even as we are being unjust toward our neighbor. Our inner bankruptcy shows in our public lives by choices and actions everyday (pg 162).”

Our failure to act justly is our failure to see God accurately, our failure to surrender ourselves to be changed by Him, and our failure to love others well. But thanks to God who has given us hope and help by offering his Son, Jesus Christ. “But God demonstrates [or took action] his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8).” Christ’s love compels us to justice. “The most profound human experience is to love and to be loved. If that is so, it’s no wonder our love-starved world is in such crisis (pg 166-167).”

To love well, we must acknowledge our crisis condition, our bankruptcy. We must ask the Lord for help. We must pay attention and we must take action. “This act of paying attention is the core our discipleship, proof of our worship and evidence that our shuttered windows are now open and opening wider still (pg. 170).” We take action against injustice by welcoming those who we would other wise ignore or fail to “see.” We take action against injustice by entering into relationships and discipling them in Christ Jesus. In this way, we respond like God, whose “response to the human condition is to make a promise that is personal, particular, relational, gift-giving, boundary-setting, and inclusive (pg 173).”

Reflection: Micah 6:8 reads, “He has showed you, O Man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” “If this is God’s way of seeing, naming, and action, what implication are there for us in addition to our own personal salvation? If we are God’s plan for showing this reality, what does it compel you to consider and to do differently in the world (pg 171)?”

© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2013

Catch Up on the Discussion:

Introduction: Dangerous Act and a Heart Like the Grinch

Chapter 1: Stop Rubbernecking, It’s Dangerous

Chapter 2: WE See No Evil

Chapter 3: Injustice and the Problem of Misperceiving

Chapter 4: Learning to See

Chapter 5: Looking in the Mirror

Chapter 6: God Help Us

Chapter 7: Choosing to Name

Chapter 8: Why Naming Matters

Chapter 9: The Power of a Name

Chapter 10: Distorted Names

Chapter 11: Changing Names

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