Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Call for Justice

After working a hard difficult day in the field, he walks into his run down trailer shared with a handful of other workers.  There is no running water inside the trailer and the air is unhealthy due to the mold that is growing fueled by the hot and humid weather.  Being given a meager pay, he doesn't eat well because most of his pay is being sent home to feed his family.  But that doesn't stop him from working his hardest out in the field because he is watched closely and threatened to lose his job.  After being sold by her parents to a clothing merchant, the 12 year old girl has barely seen the light of day because she works long hours sewing.  The building she finds herself working day in and day out isn't safe because they are packed in with all exits locked so no one can leave.  If she complains or doesn't meet her goals each day, she is beaten.  But, what does this have to do with me?

Today, I am looking at the book of James as part of the Community Bible Experience.  James gives us a no nonsense view of what it means to follow Jesus.  He explains the amazing generosity of God and how He gives wisdom to all who ask and believe.  But there are also many warnings packed in this book on what it means to live a life that pleases God.  He makes some very strong statements to point out the heart of God and what that means to us.  But a theme that interweaves through the wisdom found in this book is wealth and justice.  Look, I know the majority of my audience are Americans and I also know that very few of you feel wealthy.  But if any of you have stepped outside our country, you will understand when I say that we are rich.  We live in a country where we see extreme wealth, so we do not feel wealthy; however, we have so many resources compared to a lot of the world.  With that said, here is a warning that James gives to those of us who are wealthy:
"Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you."  James 5:1-6 (NIV)
That is very convicting to me!  You may say that you don't pay anyone's wages and haven't cheated anyone; however, let me challenge you with what God has put on my heart.  What we buy, has a direct impact on what someone earns.  We may not be directly paying a migrant worker's wages, but we are wanting to pay lower prices for our food.  We may not be enslaving a person directly; however, do we consider where our clothing is being made?  My heart is broken because I see how each one of us has a responsibility, but we have built a life-style around a dependence of these things.  We cannot stop it, but we can do the work it takes to find out where our food and other items are coming from.  We can be a voice to the voiceless and tell people that today there are more slaves in the world than any other time in history.

This is difficult, because since I know...I now have a responsibility.  I have such a heavy heart over this because it seems overwhelming.  But what if each one of us who calls ourselves a follower of Christ pick up the mantle for the voiceless and do something?  What would happen?

What does the call to justice mean to you?

This post is linked with Word Filled Wednesday.

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