In week two, which is entitled "God is Not Silent" Amber looks at what the Bible has to say about our responsibility to the poor, the widows, and the orphans. Here are some quotes from the week that really spoke to me.
- [Talking about gleaning and tithing/Day 7] "But could this law of gleaning on top of tithing mean intentionally leaving aside a certain amount of my 'crop' for those in need, even if my taxes and tithe are already supporting social welfare? I'm challenged to think that taking care of those in need isn't just a government or church concern, by also my personal concern" (56).
- "If there is a poor man amoung [you]...do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs...Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart...Be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land" (Deuteronomy 15:7-11)
- "'The plunder from the poor is in your houses. What do you mean by crushing my people and grinding the faces of the poor?' declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty." (Isaiah 3:14)...God condemns those who 'grind the face of the poor.' In the next sentence, he condemns the women of Zion for their luxurious lifestyles, assumedly made possible by the oppression of the poor. It's very possible that the women of Zion knew little or nothing about the conditions of the workers who enabled their finery. They weren't in the fields. They were simply enjoying their wealth, probably without giving much thought to the workers--even if they knew just a little bit. But these women were condemned outright."!!! (59)
- "But I do have to question whether God implicates me in the oppression of workers when I purposely buy cheaper products from companies I know are exploiting the poor rather than buying those goods from companies that ensure fair payment of workers. The passage in Isaiah convinces me that God has a high standard for the choices I make, and I need to buy with my eyes open wide." (59)
- "I want my motivation to be compassion and love, not a desire to do something big." (62)
- "Helping those in need is central to following Christ. It is who he is, and therefore, who I am. To know God is irrevocably woven into loving others, and I'll never know God in his fullness without extending that kind of love. I know a man who is dedicated to serving the poor. I asked him why he does it, and he said, 'Serving the poor, I grow closer to God and see Jesus more clearly. It helps me see Jesus because I'm doing what he would be doing if he were there. I go about life in pretty routine ways--get up, eat, go to work--and think about Jesus from time to time. But when I'm working with the poor, Jesus is front and center in my mind. It's like I sense him to be more real and more close during those times. It slows you down. It catches you and makes you think about why you're doing what you're doing." (64)
- "When we're filled with the love of Christ, God will compel us each in a different way. The essential for me is to seek God, asking that I'll be filled with his love for the church. Then, I can ask him what exactly he wants me to do." (69)
1. Spend time reflecting on what you treasure. What have you mistakenly treasured, and what would you like to treasure?
2. What was the most challenging truth you struggled through this week?
The idea of being implicated by what and where I buy REALLY impacted me. Just like the women of Zion, I have cared more about what is affordable to me, then the circumstances that made them that way. I had an epiphany, I believe, during this time that if something is unaffordable to me in order to buy it more "fairly," then I shouldn't buy it at all! I used to have the attitude that if I could buy something by going to certain stores, etc. then, by all means, I should get it! I don't think that's true anymore. I'm still trying to work this out, but I know I can't ignore it anymore...at least not if I want to continue growing and hearing from the Lord with the same/more openness. I am thinking of this a lot lately with fair trade (right now, coffee specifically.)
3. What can you do each day to ensure that you're viewing people in this world through Christ's eyes?
4. Learning about the social justice the Old Testament prescribes, do you see any injustice around you that you think God is calling you to speak out against?
5. Based on Isaiah 3:14-24, I John 3:17, and/or II Corinthians 8, is there an action or change you feel convicted to make?
(specifically fm. I John passage) I just don't feel like I interact enough with the poor--with others. And yet I am so busy. I need to use my wit and joy to build others--no matter who they are--up as I interact with them, instead of tearing them down. I need to more relational and less task. I need to see everyday as a time to serve--my kids, friends, neighbors, husband, people I meet on the street. Jesus, please, I desperately need to be more about You and less about me. Open the eyes of my heart...and change me where I need it.
6. Is there someone in your life to whom you feel God calling you to be Christ?
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