• Being an advocate when 'Talk is Cheap'

    Posted by Matt

    4 May, 2011

    Ever heard the expression "talk is cheap"? I think it's an expression Jesus might have used if he was around today. You see, Jesus wasn't big into those who claimed to be something they weren't-especially when those people in question claimed to be "religious". How do we make sure we're not just speaking about injustice because it has become cool to do so amongst Christian circles, but rather are authentically committed to being advocates for and with the poor?

    In possibly his most heated moment, Jesus read out a list of charges he had against the Pharisees, who were the religious elite of the day. While they were meticulous in their tithing, prayer and knowledge of the law, Jesus identifies that they continued to "neglect justice and the love of God" (Luke 11:42, NIV). He attacked them for their obsession with looking good over doing good.

    Mother Teresa was another, more recent prophet who also delivered a similar stinging critique. Her name is now synonymous with loving and serving the poor. However, that's not how it began and her eventual fame was never her intention. For years, Mother Teresa tirelessly and selflessly served the orphans, the widows, the sick and the dying of Calcutta's slums, compelled by the love of Christ and not the praise of man. Then, when she inadvertently gained fame, she used her opportunity in a stunningly similar way to Jesus to uncover those who, like the Pharisees, were more interested in looking good than doing good.

    Mother Teresa once famously said:
    "Today it is fashionable to talk about the poor. Unfortunately, it is not fashionable to talk with them."

    This statement exposes a common tendency among well-off, educated and got-it-all-together people who are happy to talk about issues of injustice and what should be done about it all, but who really, when pushed, have no real intention in actually going to the poor, joining them in their struggles, and standing by their side.

    My prayer is that when we advocate "with and for the poor" (as the mission statement of Micah Challenge describes), we are not just doing it because it's now seen as fashionable to be socially aware and active. I pray that we don't just put on a slogan t-shirt, Facebook-share a challenging video on poverty, or stick the faces of sponsor children on our fridges so that we look good to other people. I pray that our hearts' desire and intention is to do good. Real good. Good that is selfless, relentless and motivated by a heart for justice that God has stirred within us. It might be the case that "talk is cheap", but when we lift our voices as Spirit-filled advocates on behalf of the poor, our words are powerful.

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    Matt Darvas works as a Child Advocate Network Coordinator for Compassion Australia. He also previously interned with Micah Challenge in Political Engagement and for World Vision as a Youth Ambassador.