‘Tipping Point’ for change

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Becoming catalysts for change in reaching the world for Christ

By Linda Madsen, Major

“Stay On The Wall” in 24/7 prayer for social justice—this is the U.S.A. Western Territory’s new prayer focus, a response to General Shaw Clifton’s global call to prayer.

The theme originated from Isaiah 62:6-7, when the Israelites are instructed to “stay on the wall” day and night, as watchmen—crying out to God until he does something to restore their land. This Scripture speaks to the urgency and consistency in prayer that God expects from his people.

Some may ask, why social justice? It’s a “hot button” topic that has been vilified in some circles as being too political, involving subtle leanings to socialism and the redistribution of wealth. That’s not what this is about. Justice is no more a political issue than moral living is. Both have to do with personal choice. As Christians, we answer to a higher calling in both areas. From the beginning, this has been a biblical theme—from the fall of man to the coming of Christ to demonstrate what love and justice look like in the flesh. Throughout Scripture, justice is a theme that God continually calls us to pursue, not just for ourselves, but for all of humanity.


Prayer leads us to action

Simply to pray for social justice seems a bit passive. “As long as I pray, I’ve done my due diligence to this call for prayer,” right? Wrong! It’s just the beginning. While we desperately need intercessors in this area, let’s not forget what prayer does.

The purpose of prayer is to draw near to the very heart of God—to embrace his presence, experience his power and engage in his purpose of us as his children. In doing so, we come to understand more clearly the things that bless his heart as well as those that break it. Justice, as Scripture indicates, is at the very heart of who God is…how can we, as his children, not respond to that? Prayer is the “tipping point” where we as followers of Christ are “put into play” and engaged in pursuing justice by proclaiming the love of God to a broken world, not merely through our words or intentions, but through our actions.


Becoming catalysts for change

Recently Glen and I attended the leadership conference Catalyst West, where Christian authors, pastors and activists came together to challenge delegates to become catalysts for change in reaching the world for Christ. Beyond talking about the right things to do, we must do them—initiating real change in the lives of those to whom we not only minister, but work with, live with and even disagree with.

Catalyst emphasized social justice-—how it shouldn’t be left to the constructs of government or social workers; instead, as followers of Christ, we are to be the catalysts for change to those around us. One group, “The Last Letter,” urges people to actively engage in sacrificial living, whether in the inner city or third world countries. They are encouraged then to write what would be their last letter to family and friends in the event of their death. Below, from their website, is a paraphrase of their mission statement:

“We are working to fuel a revolution of Christians who are passionately offended by hopelessness and poverty. Where there is hunger, we will feed; where there’s no water, we will dig; where there is disease, we will bring medicine. Why? Because Jesus said to…feed the hungry, clothe the naked and heal the sick in his name.”

Sound familiar? It should to those of us who are Salvationists—we have a rich history in doing just that. In fact, it was issues of justice and human suffering that birthed the Army in the hearts of William and Catherine Booth. Here is a part of one of Booth’s early public speeches, “Call to Battle”:

“Content ourselves by singing a hymn, offering a prayer or giving a little good advice? No—a thousand times no! We will pity them. Feed them. Reclaim them. Perhaps we shall fail with many, but our business is to help them all the same…and in the most practical, economical and Christ-like manner.”

The Booths knew it wouldn’t be easy. They weren’t called to a life of comfort and safety, though, but to one of self-sacrifice and even personal and corporate risk in bringing the hope of Christ to a desperately languishing people. They simply responded to the call of Christ to “take up thy cross and follow me.”

Today, Christ is still calling us to a life of sacrificial living and intentional ministry—to not rest on our laurels but to deliberately walk away from our comfort zones and personally assigned pews on a Sunday morning and take his love to those who need it most. That’s how real change happens—lives transformed by the love of God—and we become the catalysts for such change—transformational change—co-workers with Christ in reclaiming his own.

Pray for social justice? Absolutely! It’s a moral and spiritual imperative and we need prayer warriors now more than ever before. But we must not stop there—we need to put feet to those prayers and be part of the answer to them. Micah 6:8 states what God expects from us: to do justly, to love mercy and walk humbly with our God. Do, love, walk—there’s nothing passive here. Prayer is the tipping point that keeps you in the game—the ball’s in your court now, what are you going to do with it?

For practical help in “Doing Justice,” contact Carpenter Media, P.O. Box A435, Sydney South 1235, Australia, for the book 50 Ways to Do Justice.

For more resources on social justice go to salvationarmy.org/socialjustice or contact the Territorial Spiritual Life Development department at Linda.Madsen@usw.salvationarmy.org.

Major Linda Madsen is the Western Territory’s Spiritual Life Development associate secretary.

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