Living Social Justice

A blog about responding to poverty and injustice, everyday and in all sorts of ways

Archive for the tag “hope”

Could we be the hope of the world?

What if we are God’s solution to the world’s brokenness? Common Ground Church pastor Ryan TerMorshuizen shares why he believes the local church is the hope of the world.

I heard a statistic a while ago that stated that the person you are is pretty much determined by the age of 13. Thirteen? Really?

The research, conducted by the Barna Group, went on to state that there are only three major factors that will cause you to change after this age. The first is if you have a true desire to change, the second is if you’re in a community, which provides an environment for change, and the third is what they called “acts of God”.

It hit me like a wave. Who better to provide those three things than the local church?

Suddenly, I realised that the local church is the ultimate environment for change because it’s where the gospel brings a real understanding of our identity, our purpose, and our destiny – calling us to change.

And not only is it the perfect community to come alongside those with a desire for change, it is also in the local church where we can have the greatest expectation for the miraculous ‘acts of God’ in ours and other peoples’ lives.

This was such a huge moment for me where everything fell into place. I committed myself freshly to the mission of the church, not because of the pay check but because I wanted to be part of bringing this message and building this community of change.

The lights had gone on for me. The church really is the hope of the world.

That’s quite a statement.

Yes, it is. And I hope a few of you are now asking yourselves, “But isn’t Jesus the hope of the world?”

And of course he is! The only reason I can say that the church is the hope of the world is because Jesus is the true and ultimate ‘hope of the world’ and the church is called to represent him.

One day he will return and reveal himself in fullness but until then he has chosen to link himself to human instrumentality and use us – his church – to spread this good news and point people towards him.

And so we, the church, become the hope of the world in our time.

Why the church?

The word ‘church’ is a loaded one that means many different things to different people. So it’s important to clarify that when I talk about the ‘church’ I’m not referring to a building or an organisation.

As Christ-followers, we are all ‘scattered’ as the church into our many different communities, families and work places, while still being grafted into the greater body of Christ. And there is also the ‘local’ or ‘gathered’ church, which is a gathering of believers in a certain area under a specific leadership team of biblically mandated elders and deacons.

William Temple wrote that, “The church is the only cooperative society that exists for the benefit of its non-members.”

Almost everywhere in the Bible, evangelism and social concern go hand in hand. When we look at the life of Christ we see that Jesus held in tension a relationship between evangelism and social concern. It is said that he went about both “teaching and preaching” and also “doing good and healing”.

That’s why the local church becomes the hope of the world, not just in the redemptive potential of people being healed and transformed by the love of Christ, but also in the redemptive potential of Christ-followers being ignited with a passion to restore justice and love one another in a way that brings human flourishing to all.

We are the hope of the world.

When we see the brokenness and despair in the world, it’s tempting to ask “What is the church doing to fix this?” or “Why isn’t the church involved here?”

We should be cautious not to shift the responsibility off our shoulders and onto the shoulders of local church leaders and the church as an establishment.

The role of the leadership team of the local church is to “equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4: 12).

But ultimately we, as individual Christ-followers, are the church wherever we are and we are called to live out our faith in very practical ways.

What does this mean for us as individuals?

By saying that we are Christ-followers, we are saying that we are the incarnational, “sent” ones. We are the ones who, like Christ, go out.

We are the ones who leave behind privilege and comfort, just as Christ left behind the splendour of Heaven, to go into our earth, to make ourselves lowly amongst others in order that we may serve, teach and give our lives for them.

Once we start to see that each individual has an intrinsic value as created by God then we will count it a privilege to serve and do everything in our power to bring hope to human life.

Christ is ultimately the hope of the world, but until his return he has commissioned us to bring his hope into the world by living our lives in a way that continually points to him.

If we will fully take on this responsibility and get involved wherever we can to bring Christ’s wisdom and love into everything we’re a part of, then we’ll begin to see true transformation happening in our city.

– Ryan oversees the Common Ground Church base staff team, as well as the leadership team of Common Ground Bosch AM. He is married to Kate and they have three children. 

What are some practical ways you can bring hope to the lives of those around you – particularly those who are in need?

A Hope That Never Runs Dry

How do we still hope when all earthly reason for hope is gone? Beverly Draper reflects on why self-reliance and positive-thinking can only take you so far.

There have been many occasions when I have been confronted with situations where people have lost hope. As a medical doctor, most often it has been in the context of an incurable disease and certain death. Paul was in his thirties when he was referred to the oncology clinic at Groote Schuur Hospital where I was working. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer but the doctors told him that he should not worry; the specialists would be able to treat it. He arrived in a very positive frame of mind and after the first round of chemotherapy, he did really well and resumed work. But a few weeks later, he started to get sick again and at his follow up visit it was obvious on his X-Ray that the tumour in his lung was growing and was now larger than ever and was spreading to other parts of his body.He was devastated because he believed that he had come to oncology for a cure.

One afternoon, he called me and asked me to come to his home in Pinelands. I arrived to find a man broken and confused. He asked me to level with him, knowing that I was a Christ-follower and that I would speak the truth. I told him that short of a miracle, he was certainly going to die in the not too distant future. I watched as Paul slowly moved his focus of hope from a medical cure and restoration of his physical health to hope of eternal life in Christ. He was able to find peace and place himself and his family in God’s hands, no matter whether he lived or died.

People who are self-reliant believe that their own talent, intellect, resources and connections provide hope for a future that holds the same or even better friends and family, education and the security of material possessions. In other words, they place their hope in things that make them ‘happy’. It is a hope that is earned rather than given. Many believe that a code of morality will bring security, or having a positive attitude will bring good things. Hope is placed in doctors, teachers, housing officials, employers or even government authorities to improve circumstances. Often this may happen – people get cured, promoted, receive bursaries or get paid out what is due to them. But where does one go when all hope is gone?

Read more…

Mid-week round up

Photo courtesy of Cari Ann Wayman via Flickr.com

Thought the internet was only capable of dishing out celeb gossip and Tweets? Think again. We scoured cyber-space to find only the most inspiring, thought-provoking and encouraging news, photos and links out there… Enjoy!

Meet a Cape Town-based artist using wall murals to spread hope.

This is one sign we’d love to see on the streets of Cape Town.

Are you paying your domestic worker enough? Do the maths.

The danger of only telling a single story (video).

Some comedic relief.

Must-read: “I just want to belong”.

Is there anything you’ve seen or read this week that’s inspired you?

A dose of inspiration

By Lindsay Carlin

Did you know that 1 in 4 people spend more time online than sleeping?  And recent studies show that the average person spends approximately 32 hours online every month!

As Christ-followers, we should be filling our time online with stimulating and uplifting material that stirs our hearts and minds towards Christ.  But how do we cut through the clutter?  How do we stay relevant in this day and age, yet still maintain the saltiness of Christ in our thoughts and conversations?

There’s no hard and fast rule about what specific content you should view when it comes to surfing the web, but we have found a few great nooks and crannies to share with you.

If you’re like me, you’ll enjoy these stories about hope, grace and changed lives.

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, this song always reminds me how God can even use little broken me to do great things.

Maybe you want to step away from the screen this weekend and settle down with a good book.  I’d love to read this one if I can get my hands on a copy.

Next time you’re around friends or family why not bring up the topic of how to escape an irrational worldview? (If that doesn’t impress them, we don’t know what will!)

We’d love to find out where you find inspiration online. Do you have any favourite blogs or websites?

Who are ‘the poor’?

– A message from the Common Ground Street and Shelter ministry team

Often Jesus would spend time with the poor. In the Gospel, He also stressed great importance on giving to the poor and loving the poor.  We, as the Common Ground Street and Shelter ministry team, have come across many problems in trying to give freely and generously to the poor and destitute. Our prayer has been for the Lord to give us discernment in the way we love the poor and the way in which we give generously.

Most South Africans have a general view of the poor as being people that are unemployed and unable to get a job. Although many people living in poverty are unemployed, there are many different reasons for unemployment and loss of dignity in each case.

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