Amassing wealth is morally indefensible in a world where poverty and hunger still stalks millions. Why do we still respect and look up to those who flaunt their wealth with lavish lifestyles when sharing that wealth could be saving countless lives?
Justice in today’s world means sharing with those in need, caring for those suffering, and living as a global family. Amassing wealth is just the opposite.
Normally, I do not think too highly of resolutions and statements issued by boards and other legislative bodies. Words are cheap. I am much more impressed with action. However,I applaud this statement by the World Methodist Council.
I have been in South Africa numerous times and have seen firsthand the violence brought about by irrational xenophobia. I also know and am proud to call Ivan Abrahams, and my friend. I have seen him struggle with this issue when he was Bishop of the Methodist Church of South Africa. He has a true heart for the oppressed, the refugee and the stranger in our midst. He is a man of faith and action.
I have also visited with refugees camped in Methodist Church sanctuaries in the heart of Johannesburg. I have heard their stories and felt their fear.
I have seen the anger and rage directed at these refugees. It is too often incited by those with hidden agendas and those whose motives should be held up for closer inspection. It is manufactured on fear and an appeal to nationalism.
Xenophobia is the fear of the stranger. There’s nothing Christian in such a response. Perfect love casts out fear.
17 April 2015
Peace March in Durban, South Africa on 16 April 2016.
Photo Credit: KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government
Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. — Reinhold Niehubr
Reinhold Niebuhr has long been one of my favorite theologians. He was a true religious leader. His intellectual power and capacity to realistically deal with the social issues of his day ranks him among the ablest of philosophers, as well. He was a Christian idealist that demonstrated the essential spirit of Christianity.
Through his early experience as a pastor for thirteen years in Detroit, Niebuhr developed his own interpretation of Christianity. He came to understand that the true meaning of the gospel was in direct conflict with most of the customs and attitudes of contemporary society.
Niebuhr finally reached the conclusion that the church cannot save a person’s soul without addressing the kind of life they live in the world. That’s when the Christian gospel became a social gospel for him.
And what is so compelling for me about Niebuhr is that he fully understood that Christianity could not be allowed to be seen only as vague generalities.
That the ministry is particularly tempted to the self-deceptions which afflict the moral life of Christians today is obvious. If it is dangerous to entertain great moral ideals without attempting to realize them in life, it is even more perilous to proclaim them in abstract terms without bringing them into juxtaposition with the specific social and moral issues of the day.
But, as shown by the opening quote, even Niehubr’s passionate concern for Christianity to have a direct and practical impact of the economic and social issues of his day never displaced his deep and essential religious faith. That’s the power of Christian idealism.
“Without food, all other components of social justice are meaningless.” – Norman Borlaug
An estimated 925 million people in the world are undernourished, meaning they are deprived of some or all nutritional elements necessary for human health.
We know that poverty, the principal cause of undernourishment, is brought about by conflict, unequal income distribution, lack of resources, harmful economic systems, climate change, and is perpetuated by hunger itself.
The father of the Green Revolution couldn’t be more correct in this pointed assessment.
We will never end hunger by feeding people…but that is where the vision of a world without hunger must begin. Ending hunger has to be the foundation of any plan, process or strategy aimed at achieving social justice.
Once there is food, other issues can be addressed, and definitely should be. But until there is daily bread nothing else matters.
Good News to one who is hungry is not salvation, human rights or even world peace. Good News to one who is hungry is only one word: food.
Today is Mandela Day, an international day in honor of Nelson Mandela. Officially recognized by the United Nations in 2009, the day is not a public holiday, but a day to honor the legacy of this great leader. It’s actually a global call to action.
South Africans honor Nelson Mandela by spending 67 minutes of service for the benefit of the greater community. They volunteer their time with the understanding that by working together we can change the world That’s true focus of the day; it’s a time for individuals to come together to transform the world.
Mandela Day is a global call to action that celebrates the idea that each individual has the power to transform the world, the ability to make an impact. In the words of an early campaign statement:
Nelson Mandela has fought for social justice for 67 years. We’re asking you to start with 67 minutes.”“We would be honoured if such a day can serve to bring together people around the world to fight poverty and promote peace and reconciliation.
Stop Hunger Now South Africa is celebrating Mandela Day by engaging hundred of volunteers today to package thousands of meals to help feed hungry and malnourished children in South Africa. Congratulation to all who are taking part. They are demonstrating that working together we can change the world forever. They are carrying on the legacy of the great leader whose day they celebrate.