I heard Chase and a few of his friends talking about an urban renewal project they were a part of and it got me thinking about a book I had been reading by Timothy Keller.
My wife and I recently completed Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes us Just, by Keller. The author presents the example of Jesus and the Bible as the fundamental sources for promoting justice and compassion. Keller argues that a life empowered by an experience of grace leads to a generous, gracious, justice. Central to Scripture’s message, as well as Jesus’, is the realization that justice for the poor and marginalized is part of being a disciple of the Master. Keller presents the Bible not as a repressive text as many believe today, but the basis for a clear understanding of human rights. Each chapter in his book starts with a call to justice taken directly from the Bible and Keller shows how those words can become the foundation of a just, generous, human community. The Church should be a good neighbor because to be a disciple of Jesus is to live justly.
Chase and his college buddies were an example of the generous justice Keller talked about. They went to their pastor a while ago with an idea for a door-to-door campaign around their church. They wanted to ask the residents what their concerns were and if they thought the church (where Chase and the students attended) could make any difference. The students mobilized church members to start a house-to-house listening campaign. After weeks of surveys, the overwhelming concern was for the education of the children in the community. In particular, a local elementary school was in disrepair, the library was understocked, the grounds were shoddy, and the general outlook bleak.
The students went to the school board and asked if their church could partner with them to make some improvements, with no strings attached. They said their church just wanted to be a good neighbor. The principal and parent advisory team said they would welcome any help they could get. The students and their church took up collections of money for a few months, canvassed local merchants for donations of paint, brushes, mulch, garbage bags, and school supplies. The Boston Public Library and a few other bookstores donated large quantities of books. Money, supplies, equipment, and volunteers were ready.
Soon the school had an extreme makeover, with a fresh paint job, clean grounds, a well stocked library, school supplies, church people volunteering as crossing guards, and parents and teachers overwhelmed by the generosity of a neighborhood church. It all started with a few Christian college students rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty. They mobilized their church for a neighborhood project because love means nothing if it doesn’t affect lives. Read the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37-39).
The Bible is a compelling story of God’s great rescue operation. Jesus calls us to follow Him as disciples that He can empower to live like He did (1 John 2:6). A few college students knew Jesus expected them to be dispensers of generous justice, so they put their faith into action on behalf of a school in their community. Serve globally. Jesus offers a vision of how everyone can become more healthy, healed, and whole, by being Great Commandment and Great Commission disciples of His. What are you waiting for?
Love is a verb,