• Selective advocacy?

    Posted by Micah

    24 May, 2010

    By Micah Challenge International Director, Joel Edwards

    I just can't get my mind around Christians who pay taxes, pray for our governments but think that reminding them about poverty has nothing to do with being Christian...

    Within a two week period I chatted with three Christian leaders who all felt that the church holds the only key to society's recovery. Their basic conviction was this: the Church has a mandate to worship and serve people through evangelism and social care but persuading governments to act on behalf of the poor and marginalised was both a waste of time and a misreading of our mandate.

    I stand in awe of the work and character of all three but I left feeling unconvinced that they were right.

    So it was good to have been a part of a recent forum on Government Foreign assistance and God's Mission in the World. The meeting was orchestrated by Bread for the World, Center for Applied Christian Ethics and Micah Challenge and sponsored by the Gates Foundation.

    In 2007 US foreign aid was $28.9 billion - a lot more than any other nation but still only a third of the promised $102billion. In the same year the US provided some $13 billion in military aid to other countries. The key focus was on the US response to foreign aid but the principles applied to all nations.

    The meeting explored opinions from theologians, church leaders, development specialists and key figures from the Christian press. And it also included voices from Europe, Africa and Latin America. We challenged the Christian tendency towards an individualism which has a narrow definition of neighbour, the weak view of creation which limits our views on our global responsibilities and the kind of future events theology which basically says the world is coming to an end and we should keep our head down and look after our own backyard.

    But what fascinates me in all of this is that Christians who are slow to remind our governments about our responsibilities to the poor still vote and pray for governments and pay their taxes. And we are not slow to preach against immoral politicians or harangue them if we feel that our religious liberties are being eroded, or our rights to build Christian schools are being taken away.

    If everything belongs to God I simply can't see how one can avoid reminding them that everything must be shared justly with everyone who belongs to God.

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    This article first appeared on Joel's Blog, Micah Challenge International