Monday, October 14, 2013

Good Intentions and Social Justice

I spent the last month studying Social Justice from a Biblical Perspective, a highly recommended college course offered by CollegePlus. It was worth the money by far, and gave me some college credit to boot. I'd like to outline for you the basic message taught by Dr. Messemore in Social Justice, and push off of there into the unknown territory of my own conclusions. Hold onto your hats, ladies and gentlemen. I'm glad you're along for the ride.

My assigned CollegePlus coach who I meet with every two weeks gave a great example of Social Justice from one of her many missions trips. "In a small city in Africa," she explained, "we discovered that nearly all of the natives expected us to walk off the plane and give them handouts. They were so used to rich Americans waltzing into their country and handing them needed items that they expected us to give them anything they asked for." She went on to explain how even leading church officials in this African city would ask for expensive items, such as musical instruments. When the items were not given, relationships between brethren were scarred and broken.

The individuals who set the African stage before my coach's team had good intentions. By giving their possessions, they wanted to help the least of these, as the Bible instructs. Yet, their good intentions turned into quick, thoughtless actions, and in essence, ended up hurting that little African city, rather than helping it. In their efforts to do justice, they were unjust. African men no longer want to work because rich Americans walk in and give them food and money for themselves and their families. Persons living on food stamps here in the U.S. either lose all self respect or end up not wanting to work for a living, as the government supplies their needs anyway.

The course taught by Dr. Messemore is all about learning how to properly help the least of these in the manner that is truly just and Biblical. For example, allowing unemployed men to do yard work in exchange for room and board is a just manner of serving the needy. It supplies the needy man with the physical items he needs while teaching him a good work ethic and even showing him some family life.

As I walked through the Social Justice course, I began applying this principle to numerous of other aspects of my life. See, sometimes we're so focused on our good intentions that we don't stop to think about what the end result might be. We don't stop to realize that we may be hurting a friend, coworker, neighbor, or fellow believer. We don't stop to realize we may be hurting ourselves. We don't stop to realize we may be hurting our culture.

One way I have been learning to apply a thoughtful, constructive attitude to my good intentions is in the area of views, opinions, and beliefs. I do have some different opinions and Biblical standpoints and I'm not afraid to admit to that. Yet, with those different Biblical standpoints that I believe are "good intentions," I've got to make sure I control how I put these good intentions into actions throughout my future.

My good intentions--if not controlled correctly--could end up hurting myself, my family, and the people around me.

So, what about you? What are some of the good intentions and good opinions you've formulated? What can you do to make sure that, when lived out, they're lived out in a godly fashion that brings true justice to yourself and to others?


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