Development Work in the Way of Jesus
Can development work actually be “Christian”? Can providing clean water, protecting children, increasing access to healthcare, and setting up holistic solutions be a way to worship God? Amos received a word from God that yes, helping to bring justice and righteousness to the world was a part of the Israelite’s worship.
“But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” Amos 5:24
Our worship of God can be seen in the many ways that we sing, serve, love, respond and pursue justice both in our hometowns and around the world. Justice is setting up concrete actions to correct injustice and unrighteousness. Righteousness involves setting up right, equitable relationships between people. Unhealthy systems and relationships are what create injustice and pain in our world; specifically toward people who are most vulnerable.
In the Way of Jesus
Jesus puts the poor at the center of the Gospel and justice was central to Jesus’s ministry on earth. Jesus Christ, the God-man, was powerless and despised. The news of Jesus’s arrival on earth was given first to the lowly and marginalized shepherds. The coming of Jesus’s ministry was first shared by a strange man who wandered in the desert, and Jesus’ baptism was in the Jordan – far away from the social center, far from the strong and powerful temple. As we read the Gospels, we see Jesus interact with and defend the poor, the despised, and the rejected. So, if Jesus’s ministry had the poor and marginalized at its center shouldn’t we do the same?
Bryant Myers in his book Walking with the Poor shares that, “The poor are largely poor because they live in networks of relationships that do not work for their well-being. Their relationships with others are often oppressive and disempowering as a result of the “non-poor” playing God in their lives.”
As followers of Jesus, our worship needs to include pursuing justice and building healthy relationships to bring wholeness and healing. So that, amid hardship and in broken social systems, the redemptive power of Christ can begin to take root. Therefore, development is not just physical – it is also theological – it starts and progresses with our heart being in the right place before God.
For the Poor
Every month people continue to show generosity and passion for worshipping God through gifts that provide justice and transformation to some of the hardest places around the world. Many of you spend time praying for communities that need holistic care and hope. Your giving, prayers and passion for the poor remind me of Paul’s words to the church in 2 Cor. 9:11, “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”
Thank you for giving, praying, and caring about opportunity, dignity and hope. It is through your partnership that we are seeing holistic, just and transformational relationships taking place around the world through World Hope!