What About Waste, Injustice, and Selfishness?

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I don't know about anyone else, but I don't hear or read much about Christian Reformed Deacons carrying out the following portion of their Charge: "Be prophetic critics of the waste, injustice, and selfishness in our society."(Form for the Ordination of Elders and Deacons - 1982) Please don't get me wrong . . . I'm not saying it's not happening. I simply do not hear about it and would like to know how deacons are attempting to carry out this portion of their charge. How are deacons identifying and addressing issues of waste, injustice, and selfishness? 

I suspect--and I might be wrong--that these are issues and areas that many, if not most, deacons just don't address. I honestly hope I'm wrong! However, If I'm right, I think its probably more of an indictment on how and what the CRC has or has not done with regard to educating and supporting deacons to understand and carry out their responsibilities. (The need for equipping and resourcing deacons was acknowledged last year in "Diakonia Remixed: Office of the Deacon Task Force Report.")

So, if you have an example or examples of deacons from a local congregation, congregations, classis, or deacon conference addressing any issue of waste, injustice, or selfishness, please share it. Tell us what issue or issues are being addressed and how.

I hope to hear from at least a few of you who read this. What you share just might give someone an idea about what they or their deacons might be able to do to address one or more of these issues. 

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Partnering with Bread for the World with their annual Offering of Letters (http://www.bread.org/ol) is one of the best ways U.S. deacons can fulfill this part of their charge. This year, for example, the focus is on reforming U.S. food aid, directly addressing waste and injustice. I'll be organizing an Offering of Letters in my church this coming Sunday, facilitating the writing of letters to members of Congress on this topic.

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Thanks for sharing this information about BFW's Offering of Letters effort. Thanks too for doing your part in fulfilling this important part of your charge as a deacon.

I agree, Bread for the World is a helpful resource that focuses directly on waste and injustice. They were even recommended to CRC churches by Synod in 1979.

Great post! The Diakonia Task Force did a survey, available on their website I think, that affirms the hunch that in general deacons don't take a very active role in being prophetic critics of waste and injustice. I have, however, seen deacons take on this role in powerful ways. Some examples are: finding legal services for immigrants, advocating for better immigration laws, and one church that found a pro bono legal organization to help someone fight an unjust landlord. All of these examples started with an individual coming to the deacons for benevolence and were moved towards justice because the deacons thought in a creative long term way about the situation they were presented with.    

Gentlemen,  World Renew is doing an excellent job of representing the Christian Reformed Church both nationally and internationally.  World Renew is present in 38 countries and is admired by numerous NGO's for the success it has shown in fighting injustice and poverty.  Andy Ryskamp was chosen to lead the Integral Alliance due to the skills he has shown in leading World Renew.  Please go to the World Renew web-site and see for yourselves.   

Here is a devotional I wrote in 2013 as part of 12 months "deacons devotional" dissecting the "charge given to CRC deacons."  I serve in the ministry of Christian Service Ministries funded by Classis Chicago South.  

Month 10                                            Monthly Deacons Devotions

“Be prophetic critics of the waste, injustice, and selfishness in our society.” 

(Based on the Charge given to deacons at their installation in the Christian Reformed Church.)

What kinds of waste do we see around us?  What can we do about it?  Is our church being stewardly or wasteful?  Think about money, time, water, electricity, paper, food, etc?  

 

Are you encouraging your church to be generous?  The more generous we become, the less selfish we are.  How can we focus less on our own needs and those of our neighbors in our communities and around the world? 

 

The Christian Reformed Church website has a section devoted to the “Office of Social Justice” where they cover topics such as: 

Abortion          domestic poverty                    economic justice          global poverty

HIV/AIDS      human trafficking                   immigration                 refugees

Religious persecution                                      restorative justice

 

Visit http://www2.crcna.org/pages/justice.cfm or Visit:  www.crcna.org  

Click ministries; scroll down and click denominational ministry programs;

scroll down and find “office of social justice”

 

The Old Testament prophets speak about injustice and selfishness.  The sin and disobedience that occurred 2700 years ago still occur. 

Is. 5:7 “He looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.”

Is. 10:1-2 “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.” 

Is. 59:11 “We look for justice, but find none; for deliverance, but it is far away.”

Ezekiel 22:29 “The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the alien, denying them justice.” 

Amos 5:12, 15, 24, “You deprive the poor of justice in the courts….Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts….Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

 

What is your deaconate doing to address any of these issues?  Maybe you could recruit a few people from the congregation to be part of a social justice committee to raise the awareness in the congregation.  Maybe your church already has people in your congregation who are wrestling with poverty issues, immigration issues, abortion issues.  What can you do? Maybe you want to pick 1 area to focus on for 1 year and see what kind of response you receive from the congregation.  Is there a particular issue that you feel passionate about?  Seek God, a God of justice, for His wisdom on ways to bring justice in this world. 

 

Recommended book: 

Hybels, Bill.  The Power of a Whisper. Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 2012.