A Heart for Justice
The breaking of a heart seems such a sad and negative experience; but when it comes to injustice, if our hearts are hard we will never be able to truly be agents of justice. Having your heart broken for injustice is not a comfortable experience. It requires that we let ourselves be open, vulnerable and receiving of grace, something we humans are not always good at. We need to let ourselves empathize with the pain that those experiencing injustice feel and our eyes will be opened and our hearts filled with sadness as we begin to understand what our fellow men, women and children go through daily.
Campbell Roberts, 50 Ways to do Justice Volume 1
‘The man who walks with open eyes and with bleeding heart through the shambles of our civilization needs no such fantastic images. Often and often when I have seen the young and the poor and the helpless go down before my eyes into the morass, trampled underfoot by beasts of prey in human shape that haunt these regions…’
General William Booth, In Darkest England and The Way Out
For I was hungry and you gave me food: I was thirsty and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: naked and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came unto me (King James 2000).
We may say without a shadow of doubt that every Christian strives to do something good in their life for the sake of others. It is a very good feeling and it needs to be done. In the United States of America The Salvation Army has a slogan which describes the feeling and the urgency in the world – ‘Doing the Most Good’. It is a genuine longing not only for Christians around the world but also for many who long to do the right thing. Jesus and his amazing love for others set an example for us. He taught us not to be conformed to the practices of the hypocrites – those who claimed to be compassionate, yet failed to show a practical way of compassion for those who faced sadness, trials and abuse and all kinds of injustice. He taught us a valuable lesson which shows that the right attitude goes hand in hand with a practical response.
To do well we must have a grieving heart which will allow us to be vulnerable and be compelled to engage in doing something practical for those who are marginalized; those who are different from our upbringing, thinking, points of view, values, ethnicity, nationality or social status. We pass by a person who is digging in the trash to find crumbs to eat and this is the only meal for the day. Perhaps we see a young fellow who bears the scars of his addiction on his body and we may show the same compassion which Jesus showed to those who were untouchable and marginalized. Jesus had a grieving heart for them and at the same time he was moved to put his compassion into action. They were healed, touched, embraced and most of all he gave them a sense of dignity.
We have to be careful when we look at others differently. We must allow our hearts to be moved with compassion and to turn this compassion into something tangible and practical. True compassion enables us to take responsible action to fulfil the needs of our neighbour.
Lord, you have given me a heart of flesh, I am very grateful to you. Help me to be moved with compassion for those who are marginalized. I am standing in the gap to advocate and to raise my voice on their behalf. Open my spiritual eyes in a way that I may feel their pain and helplessness and then be compelled to help them. I am walking on the other side of the path and there is a gap between them and me. It is my prayer that I may be able to close the gap and be willing to reach out to them. I cannot do this in my own strength; I need you to come alongside me. I depend on you Lord.
Lord, our heart is pounding continually to maintain life. This is a good sign that keeps the physical body alive. Beyond the physical body, we need a heart which continually beats for others, especially those who are in need of love and compassion. O Lord, help us not to be cauterized by indifference and selfishness. Let us be champions of your mercy and your compassion to others. Amen.
God did not create a man to be isolated and detached from the rest of his creation. Every person is important in the community of faith. We are not mere observers; we must do something practical as part of the body of Christ. Our heart needs to exercise compassion for justice. We are called to join forces to rescue those who are suffering. O Lord, we need the strength and the willingness of others to make a difference in the world, to leave the footprints of our compassion we need a devoted and committed heart for justice.
We pray for those who are suffering injustice. We pray that they may find comfort knowing that the Lord identifies himself with the marginalized of this world. The Lord is with them in ways that they may not fully understand. He cares and loves. Let us pray for a change of attitude, a compassionate heart and a helping hand to positively impact the lives of others. Amen.
Prayer Focus provided by the International Social Justice Commission
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