Dr. Cornel West once famously said, "Justice is what love looks like in public." When I first heard this statement, I found it to be rather enlightening. Sometimes it seems easy to take something like "justice" and make it complicated and almost too big to do anything about. We think of the terrible injustices we've heard of - children who are going hungry or families torn apart by wars - and feel overwhelmed because we think, how can I possibly do anything to make these things right?
But this statement somehow brings justice a bit closer to home. If I know what it means to love - and maybe I would even say I regularly practice loving the people around me - then helping to bring about justice simply means taking what I already know and practice and finding ways to make it public. Essentially it means that I keep taking steps outside of my own little bubble and love people as I go.
Justice sometimes feels like it requires more wisdom than I have. Justice can feel out of reach, almost impossible. But love - that feels more like something I know how to do. Love requires seeing a person and caring about that person. I almost wonder if justice is what happens when people truly learn to love.
When we think of people who have demonstrated this kind of justice, people who have boldly taken the call to love and made it very public, many of us probably think of Martin Luther King Jr. We remember and celebrate his life and the incredible way he fought for justice but always did so in love.
Maybe we find ourselves wanting to follow in his footsteps in some way. We want to take our love and make it public, to somehow create even a small increase of justice in the world. But here's where I think we can sometimes miss the way to actually get there.
My husband has been attending a series of retreats led by writer Ruth Haley Barton, and recently I got to attend one of them with him. During one of her sessions, Ruth was talking about Martin Luther King Jr. and she shared how most of us think of him as this great civil rights leader - which he was - but what we forget is that the source of all of his speaking, writing, marching, preaching, and everything he did was his real relationship with the Lord. He was a pastor, and even more than that, a person who knew and understood his deep need for God. Without his commitment to knowing God and finding his strength in God, he could never have been the leader that he was.
When we think about "what love looks like in public", sometimes the temptation is to just try to figure that out and start doing it immediately, without giving any time or space to allow God to grow His love within us. But does this really work? It would almost be like expecting to be able to give someone flowers or vegetables from my garden without ever planting any seeds or watering them to help them grow. We can't shortcut our way around this need. We must remember that God Himself is the true source of love and we must come to Him often, so that what we are offering in public grows out of our real relationship with the Gardener of our souls.
John Mark Comer says, "When I frame up discipleship or apprenticeship to Jesus, I use these three simple goals: One, to be with Jesus, two, to become like Jesus (spiritual formation) and three, to do what He would do if He were me, to live as He did, to carry on His work in the world."
Let's not miss goal one! Let's remember to be WITH Jesus and let our time with Jesus be what informs our becoming like Jesus and doing His work in the world. And let's pray God will help us to teach our students to do the same.
Pray with me...
... Father, give everyone in the ACSD community a strong desire to be with You
Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked." Psalm 84:10
... Jesus, change all of us to be more like You
"And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."
2 Corinthians 3:18
... Holy Spirit, lead and guide the people of ACSD to do Your work in the world
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:8
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and pray for Alliance Christian School District! Lord willing, I plan to publish a new blog post weekly on Wednesdays throughout the school year. Feel free to subscribe (at the bottom of this page) if you'd like to be notified each time a new blog post has been published. We also have a prayer team that is always open for new pray-ers to join. If you'd like to learn more, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
~ Carrie Warner, ACSD Prayer Team Coordinator
Soli Deo Gloria To God alone be the glory