The latest guest blog from J Foster all about justice, money and the like…it’s great, read on.
It’s great to be back here again for our monthly conversation and I must say that I’ve had a great summer, not least because the weather’s been amazing, but I also thoroughly enjoyed being at Soul Survivor’s Momentum festival. I hope that you enjoyed it as well, or perhaps you’ve been to one of the many other great conferences that have been going on from whatever group of churches you are a part of. It’s so refreshing and energising to gather as family to celebrate and explore God together, sharing experiences and having fun. Standing at the side of the tent in Shepton Mallet watching thousands of people worshipping God wholeheartedly was an awe-inspiring sight and hearing about what God was doing in and through those gathered was stunning.
But as exciting as the weather and festivals were, the highlight off my summer lay elsewhere…
In our tour looking at justice in the Scriptures so far we have encountered the strength of God’s concern for the poor and vulnerable again and again and we’ve seen the warnings given to those who ignore it. Again and again we’ve heard the voices of those instructing Israel, and now us, to weave justice into the fabric and rhythm of our daily decision making and as I was reflecting upon what to draw out of this topic when looking at the corporate Church’s response, Archbishop Justin Welby sparked a media frenzy.
As the country continues through what has been a tough financial period for many, those right on the edge of things have been turning for help in ever greater numbers to pay-day lenders. I have my own views on those companies (and they’re not at all positive!) but what really matters in this is that the likes of Wonga, who proudly say they are making £1,000,000 per week, are profiting off the back of people’s vulnerability from schemes that consciously lead many into a cycle of unmanageable debt. When I was reading about this stuff wondering what God made of it all, my mind was cast back to picturing Jesus stood at the entrance to the Temple, pausing to survey the money-changers and traders, before he exploded with righteous anger (John 2).
I thought that the Archbishop’s response was brilliant. He didn’t shy away from calling Wonga out on what they are doing and he did in person to their chairman not just through the media which shows courage and integrity. But he didn’t stop there. He turned away from Wonga and faced the Church and said ‘…so here’s what we’re going to do about it…’
The path to justice isn’t simply a matter of pointing to injustice and saying ‘that’s wrong!’ but it requires us to stand together and create viable alternatives to the problems we see.
In our church we don’t have a credit union but we do have a CAP Centre. If you’ve never heard of Christians Against Poverty (“CAP”) then check out this link because they’re an incredible God-centred organisation . CAP costs a bunch of money to run and requires many people in our church congregation to step up and give their time. With faltering steps our church family are giving to meet both needs in order to support, encourage and cheer on local people from all sorts of backgrounds to break free of financial problems into a new life. And because of the way that CAP works, it doesn’t just provide people with a better way of budgeting (although it does do that) and it doesn’t just see people through dark stressful days, (it does that too of course) but it provides genuine friendship that changes people at a far deeper level because it offers clients the chance to encounter this transforming, hope-giving God that we spent the summer in different fields and conference centres worshipping. That’s justice.
The prophet Micah absolutely nailed it when he said “With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I sing great worship songs or give 10% of my salary? Or perhaps 20 or even 50% of it? [that's the J Foster translation in italics by the way]…what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:6-8)
Gathering together and singing songs that express our love, thankfulness and commitment to Jesus is such a good and vital thing to do, as is giving generously of the money that God has given to each of us, but it can’t stop there. There is a world that needs to encounter Him as well and it is our pleasure and act of worship to stand shoulder to shoulder with Credit Unions, CAP and a thousand other great projects to make a change and I urge you to get together with friends and church leaders to figure out what your church could do together to construct the path to justice in your part of the world.
I’m in if you are?
Thanks for reading,