Kiran Martin from Asha has written a reflection and a letter by way of an update for supporting churches, which you can read below.
During this blessed Christmas season, the verse I have been reflecting on is found in Jeremiah 22:1-2:
Hear the word of the Lord, O King of Judah sitting on the throne of David- you, and your servants, and your people who enter these gates. Thus says the Lord: Act with justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor anyone who has been robbed.
Biblical justice is a state of equity and fairness, integrity and righteousness, peace and wholeness, at all levels of society, that protects the rights and dignity of all, particularly the most vulnerable.
Justice is not merely a desirable state, but requires all people, particularly those with power and authority, to act in such a way as to preserve and promote this state of justice.
Without such attention and actions, the wealthy and powerful may capture or exploit the government or the markets for their own benefit and at the expense of those with less power. The poor get caught in entrenched poverty, insecurity, debt and vulnerability that leaves them with little hope or opportunity for change.
God’s call not only on Christians, but on all people is this:
He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8
We seek to love our neighbors as ourselves, not just directly in face to face encounters, but also indirectly by seeking to ensure that the laws and rules, systems and processes that operate in our societies protect the rights and dignity of all, particularly the most vulnerable and the poor.
All people- women and men alike- are image bearers of the true and living God, with inherent dignity and worth.
So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
God intends for all people to experience abundant life: peace, wholeness and righteousness in their daily lives and in all their relationships. The Old Testament word Shalom stands for a state of harmony and rightness in social relations, justice in the courts and in the marketplace, of material sufficiency, peace and security in communities and nations, and of right relations with one’s Creator.
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore; but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid. Micah 4: 3-4
Poverty represents a subversion of the created dignity and worth of those made in God’s image, and a denial of the abundant life which God desires for all.
God is deeply grieved by dehumanizing poverty, and is deeply angered by the arrogance, greed, indifference and injustice that causes it. The existence of poverty is not accidental, but a result of those who seek to dominate or exploit others, and exclude others from enjoying material and social resources.
As we approach 2021, let us live and speak and act in line with the Biblical version of abundant life for all, in line with God’s Kingdom values of justice, mercy, generosity, love. Let us stand against everything that degrades or denies people’s dignity and subverts God’s vision for all to experience abundant life.
May the voices of people living in poverty never be silenced, their rights never be denied, their identities never marred, and their self worth never be taken away.
With much gratitude for our friendship and partnership in Christ, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.