• No more head-nodding observers

    Posted by Marissa

    8 April, 2011

    Last Saturday was the NSW Micah Challenge Training Day, which brought together people from all around Sydney to participate in a range of workshops and networking sessions. Topics included political engagement; key campaign focus areas such as health (MDG4+5) and environmental sustainability (MDG7); as well as advocacy and theology. It was a great day of conversations about the work of Micah Challenge, as well as the development organisations involved in our coalition.

    I really valued seeing people come and be informed about how as Christians we need to commit to engage more fully in the arena of poverty and social justice, even as it starts at home with the Australian Government's AusAID program.

    I was also really impacted by some reflections from the Chair of the Micah Challenge National Steering Committee, Paul Perini, who encouraged us to make sure we are 'participants' in the work of justice, and not just 'observers'. I was reminded that Jesus is our prime example of fully engaging with the world - and that this has significant political implications. The scriptures tell the story of a Jesus who challenged the way in which society was being run because it did not adhere to God's standards of equality and justice.

    If Jesus is our Lord and Saviour then we too need to be following his example of engaging in the world in a way that is politically and socially responsible and seeking to address the issues that cause the world to be in strife; namely issues of social justice. We were challenged to take seriously our political influence and rather than waste it, we should focus on the sacrificial kind of justice that Jesus conveyed in his Kingship.

    So what does that look like?
    Well, we must recognise that the way we live should be supremely different to worldly political strategy of cunning and striving for more power. It must be through love and sacrifice that we seek to bring about true justice and equality. We need to influence people in a 'prophetic' way as Paul described.

    This way of life is so counter-cultural, because we are driven by a passion to serve the poor as Jesus did during his earthly ministry. We should recognise the blessings we have been given in Australia and acknowledge that 'to whom much is given, much is expected'. That means that our wealth and our voice should be used to serve those who are in poverty and have no chance to speak out against their injustices and oppression. It means that, like the great Old Testament Prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, we choose to speak up against corruption in politics and corporate practices.

    Furthermore, we must remember than it's not just about addressing the problems of poverty, it is also about choosing to contribute to bringing the kingdom of God to earth. It is about the responsibility we have as God's tools in the world to 'do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God' (Micah 6.8). We must draw attention to the evil in the world, and rather than just standing idly by, we must promote good and justice.

    It is important that we do not walk away from days like Saturday's training and give ourselves a pat on the back for our input. The work is not over - we're just getting started! We must not just be head-nodding observers and listeners. We must get our hands dirty and engage with our world.

    By Marissa Flynn, Micah Challenge 2011 Intern.