Justice Conference: Consumerism

I’m writing from the Justice Conference in Portland. If you’d like to follow along with the rest of our team, please visit the KHCJustice2012 Blog.

The third word of the conference is consumerism.

It is the real threat to justice. Allow me to explain.

We live in a culture marked by a fierce commitment to convenience and comfort. Our lives have  dominated by our insatiable appetite for more. Stimulation. Medication. Emancipation. Without even knowing it, many of us have become slaves to more.

More of everything.Gadgets. (I’m writing on one.) Goods. Gods. These begin to be stuffed into the compartments of our hearts and minds that is reserved for the One True God. When God is crowded out of those places, the Holy Spirit is evicted.

Why is that significant? Because He is the center of our nervous system. He makes us aware of injustice. He is the One who opens our eyes to see the hypocrisy of our lives. He is the One who opens our ears to the cries of the poor and the fatherless. He is the One who softens our heart to allow us to have it broken by the things that break the heart of God.

Consumerism, in short, has replaced the role of the Comforter. Consumerism has robbed us being the active presence of God’s righteousness and justice in the world, and we have been easy prey. Far too compliant. Rather than being used by the Holy Spirit of God to liberate the captives, we have become captivated  by the very things we were set free from. The World.

The seed sown among the thorns was choked out by the cares of the world, and it proved to be unfruitful.

I don’t have any answers to boast of. I am wrestling with my own love of the world. But I know this: I am most alive when I can hear the Holy Spirit, and when He uses me to set the captive free. When I know the Truth, and am in vital relationship with Him, I am free. I am engaged. I am useful to my Master, rather than being enslaved to the passing cares of the world.

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Justice Conference: Relationship

I’m posting from the Justice Conference in Portland today.  If you’d like to follow other insights from our team, please click here.

The second word of the day at the Justice Conference was relationship. Everything that we do must be ordered out of a right relationship with God, others and self.

Too often our motivation to do right stems from a desire to feel right. I remember when Anne had a severe headache. Being the loving husband that I am, I offered to get her some Tylenol. Problem. Solution. My husband of the year award was secured for another year, I thought.

I thought wrong.

My doctoral candidate wife responded to my offer of instant assistance with the prompt reply, “Oh, why didn’t I think of that? You’re so smart!”

Huh? I was reminded again of the value of relationship. My well-intended offer of relief would have been better received had it come with a simple five-minute conversation prior to the generous offer of retrieving the pain reliever. What she wanted was time with me, not a handout from me.

At times,  our compassion efforts are the equivalent of an air drop. We fly by and deposit some form of relief. Usually from a fair distance. We don’t really want to get our hands dirty. We don’t really want to know the people we are “helping.” Often, the only folks we are trying to aid is ourselves and our need for significance.

True justice and righteousness is born out of a desire to live right with our Creator and His creation. To be a genuine representation of being image bearers. To reflect His face to the defenseless, sojourner and needy among us. Such efforts cannot be separated from the original design of the One whose Image we are created in. When we are out of alignment with Him, our efforts usually are as well.

Righteousness is born out of right relationship.

With God, others, self and creation. All other efforts lead to self-righteousness and severed relationship. Therefore, I renew myself to seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness.

To live as one made to live like the One who made me. To live as an ambassador of the King. To reflect Him in all my relationships.

Today.