Kym Bishop 18 Apr 2016
As part of my studies, I have been required to read and reflect on a section of a book called 'How to be Christian in a world of Destitution.' The book itself is an introduction to a way of reading scripture and understanding faith that is called 'Liberation Theology'. The chapter I have been engaging with is asking the question what does it mean for us as followers of Jesus to live in a world of injustice and poverty. Chapters like this one have always scared me, because I assume I am going to simply end up feeling guilty about what I have, and how little I am doing for those that don't have. This chapter was a little bit different, because instead of feeling guilty at the end of it, I felt inspired and hopeful for the role of the church in our broken world.
The authors of this book described how liberation theology was born, not because faith communities were ignoring the problem, but because people of faith were confronting injustice. And living as Christians in a world of destitution begins with compassion – a willingness to 'suffer with' and acknowledge that all is not right with the world. The second step is to ask the question 'what role does Christianity have to play in the world today?' We believe in a message of Good News that reaches out beyond the walls of a church building, into the lives, hopes, dreams and circumstances of every person and every community. We believe in a God who transforms individuals, communities and even history. So we should be asking the question of how we, as followers of Jesus, should be living today in a world of destitution and injustice. The question is no longer scary, but an opportunity to seek God's guidance on how we can truly bear witness to the Good News. So the third step is about taking action. We feel compassion, we think and engage critically, and we act. What action can we take, as individuals living on the Dolphin Coast, as well as the Umhlali Methodist Church community, that will enable us to put into action God's plan to overcome oppression and injustice? This may seem an impossible task, but the truth is God has called and invited each one of us to be a part of the work God is doing in the world. Each of us, in small and big ways, can join with God. I look forward to reading the next chapter about how we can be a part of this, and I would love to hear your thoughts on the 'how' too!