Community Involvement: Are You Letting Your Light Shine?
Community involvement is a reference to Christians participating in the improvement of their communities. It is an essential part of Christian growth. The following are my suggestions regarding Christian community involvement:
1. The three major systems. Every community is said to have social, political, and economic systems. Social is concerned with how people relate to those in and out of the community as fellow human beings. Political is concerned with decision making in and for the community. Economic is concerned with how assets are obtained and distributed.
God's Word teaches that He wants social love (see Mic. 6:8b), political justice (see Mic. 6:8a), and economic mercy (see Mt. 25:31-46).
The worst person still has some image of God in him or her. Therefore, there is something worthy of love. The people of God in the Old Testament were often guilty of being unjust to one another. And one of the greatest areas of injustice was and is economic oppression.
2. People of influence operate out of their value system. If people of influence (e.g., business owner, government official, police, etc.) do not hold social love, political justice, and economic mercy to be high values then there is no telling how that person will use his or her influence.
For example, without love, a teacher could very easily mistreat a child who is not attractive, not as bright as the others, or has behavioral problems. Without justice, more minorities are likely to be incarcerated by the majority. Without economic mercy, the poor get poorer and the rich get richer.
On the other hand, those who hold social love, political justice, and economic mercy to be high values are more likely to purse the practice of these values, as leaders of systems and people of influence.
3. Seven ways you can help your community be godlier. (see Mt. 5:13-16)
- Vote. In our democracy, the system leaders are often elected by the people. If you are not a part of community involvement and voting, you are a silent partner in whoever has been elected.
- Support a political action committee (i.e., PAC). Politicians are often elected because of promises that they made. However, monitoring post-election promise keeping often falls through the cracks. The church must be careful about being too involved in politics. But believers can develop PACs to hold politicians accountable for staying on task.
- Be involved in love activities. Community festivals, meals, and social events are nice ways to help people see one another as being more a like than different. This type of community involvement is similar to what churches call fellowship.
- Be involved in justice issues. It is unjust for suburban school districts to have surpluses, while urban districts have deficits.
It is unjust for a small amount of crack (i.e., poor person's drug) to lead to years in jail, while large amounts of powered cocaine (i.e., middle class and rich person's drug) don't. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (i.e., NAACP) does great work in this area.
- Be involved in economic empowerment issues. There is a need for people to become equipped to hold gainful employment and operate profitable businesses. There is a need for people to learn how to be better stewards of their incomes. And there is a need for advocates to bring jobs to our communities. The Urban League does great work in this area.
- Help young people with education. There is a need for tutors, mentors, and simply extra help in working with our young people.
If a child cannot read by the time he/she leaves third grade, he/she is headed for serious trouble, because the rest of the education system assumes he/she can read and really don’t have time to back track and teach him/her how to read.
- Help young people with character and focus. No matter how well a young person reads, writes, performs math functions, works on the computer, if the young person has poor character, we have a problem.
Without character, we may simply be watching the development of another smart thief. God knows that our systems don't need anymore smart thieves (smile). Character traits are more caught than taught. We need more honest, self determined, hard working, compassionate, and godly adults to spend time with young people.
We also need more adults to help our young people set some realistic goals and plans. Teach them the value of planning their work and working their plan. Teach them how quickly time and energy passes away.
In summary, as Christians, we should be involved in making our communities more loving, just, and merciful.
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