I returned a phone call to a friend recently who proceeded to tearfully share her burden for a young man who had been incarcerated and recently released. This young African American man returned to society with a strong desire to change his life. Yet even with the help of my passionate and resourceful friend, this young man has been unable to find a job and make any progress towards becoming a “productive” citizen. My friend’s heart was broken for her young friend, who is surrendering to the hopelessness he faces.
Jesus stands in stark contrast to this young man’s situation and says in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
As citizens and representatives of the Kingdom of God who are living into the words of Christ, we very clearly are called to be committed and striving towards fullness of life for everyone. Equally, we must have no part – either by commission or omission – in the theft and destruction of life that leads to death.
We are currently living through two painful, pressurized, and polarizing occurrences in the United States – the decision rendered by the Ferguson, MO grand jury regarding the shooting of Michael Brown and President Obama’s Executive Action on immigration. These situations remind me …
- That as a follower of Christ, I am always called to stand for fullness of life by standing with those whom the “thief” is robbing, killing, and destroying;
- Of the importance of identifying the “lens” through which I view life and people.
Without a “corrective lens,” I am very naturally going to view life – people and circumstances – through the defective lenses of personal experience and selfish desire, lenses which have proven time and time again to lead to destruction and death.
It is of utmost importance that I ask the questions: What lens am I looking through as I view the events in Ferguson and see the hurt and pain of my African American brothers and sisters? Through what lens do I view immigrant families in our country and their citizenship or lack thereof? Does my lens correct defects in my vision or simply reinforce my personal convictions? What lens is required of me as a follower of Christ?
I live my life on the foundation of the Word of God. However, without a corrective lens, my tendency is to interpret scripture based upon my own experiences and desires. The lens that has corrected my defective vision is the Christian Community Development (CCD) Philosophy, though I do not hold the CCD Philosophy higher than the Word of God. The CCD Philosophy, and my relationships within CCDA, is the lens God has used to give me a clearer understanding and vision of the Kingdom of God and the fullness of life he desires for everyone.
As I try to discern the heart of God regarding immigration and all its multiplicities; as I examine the underlying circumstances that led to Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, MO; as I seek to know my role and determine changes needed in my own life and community regarding these and so many other areas, I continually ask myself, “How does Jesus’ call to fullness of life, recognition of my privilege as a white male, and the 8 Key Components of the CCD Philosophy inform my thoughts, decisions, and actions?”
Jesus makes it very clear – He desires that every individual experience fullness of life. And with corrected vision, I can see that my brothers and sisters of color face systemic injustices — the thieves that exist only to steal and kill and destroy.
CCDA is an association of people who are committed to seeing every individual experience fullness of life. We challenge and encourage each other to thwart all efforts that will steal, kill, and destroy life and hope. We stand with each other advocating for fullness of life.
In these difficult days, we need to listen to one another. This is an open invitation for you to share your voice with CCDA and beyond, in 600 words or less. We are seeking a Kingdom response to these painful and divisive life circumstances we are facing today. We desire to hear from those of you who are viewing Ferguson, immigration, and all that these events, through the lens of the CCD Philosophy while standing on the foundation of the Word of God. We desire to hear from those of you who long to experience our Savior’s prayer, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Please send your response to [email protected]. We will review and post responses on the CCDA blog within 2-3 days and share through Facebook and Twitter.