Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Privilege, Is It All It's Cracked Up to Be?

Do I want privilege for the kids in our neighborhood? It's not a simple question for me to answer. I desire to bring clarity to this very important question.

Is our goal to help these kids become better educated, graduate college, get a job making good money, and to get out of this this neighborhood? Is a our hope for them to live in a safer, more comfortable place?

I have determined my answer is no. That is not the goal.

If it was, why would we ourselves decide to give up good paying jobs to move in to a needy neighborhood. Our whole life would be sending them an opposite message.

I have had some friends recently ask me what my hopes and dreams were for the kids in our neighborhood. It's a very simple question, whose answer should instruct the very nature of our work. Of course I want good things for the kids, and for the neighborhood. I want them to have options, to not become stuck. I hope they become all God has made them to be and that their gifts and talents are encouraged and used for good.

But the world's idea of success is very different from God's.  After all God does not call us to be citizens of this world but sojourners passing through, living as followers of Christ in his kingdom established for us before we were even born, an eternal home (Ephesians 2:17-19). He has given us life and freedom that the world can not give(Galatians 5 :1). Privilege itself is often a hindrance from finding this life and freedom. We who find privilege in the world often turn to own abilities and desires, we loose sight of community because we no longer have a need for it. We begin to believe the lies of this world that say more is better and comfort is the best way.

I desire for every kids in our program be treated with dignity, to understand their worth in God's eyes, and to live out that knowledge in showing love and generosity to those around them.  The hope we have in this work, that keeps us going, is that we know however broken and unfair the systems of this world may be, God offers them all they need.

God  is powerful and can change people! We want our neighbors to know God's love and how to live out that love in their own lives. So when one of our young leaders decides to stay here and become a neighborhood mechanic or a young lady makes a mistake and becomes pregnant and never goes to college, or a teenager decides to do nothing more then to stay here and invest in the younger kids in the after school program, and they bare the fruits of the spirit in their lives, we find joy, and praise our heavenly father (Galatians 5:22-25). Because we know our work has been honoring to him. We can celebrate those kids as much as we can the ones who go off to college and make good money. Because to us the most important thing is that they know Jesus and that he has changed them.

The beauty of the kingdom of God is that we are all different and have unique things to offer in showing love to one another (1 Corinthians 12:1-11). God uses the rich and the poor. We are not all called to be rich and we all not all called to be poor. The important thing is that wherever we find ourselves we never forgot God's love for us, and that like Jesus, we live by that love and for that love. Loving God and loving others should be our motivator not worldly power and success (Mark 12:28-34).

Let's work together to bring restoration to broken systems and justice for those who are oppressed! But we must not hold ourselves, or OTHERS, to the worlds standards of success. For God is still at work and his spirit can still make a person whole no matter where they find themselves or end up! For God can use his children in powerful ways, whether they are in a jail cell or in a law office, whether they are rich or poor, whether they are documented or undocumented! This is why we don't give up.  This is why we continue to visit Nico in prison. This is why we are proud and inspired by Miguel and his work in the neighborhood. This why we celebrate Laura, being the first in her family to go to college, and her desire to help others through her degree.  This is why we have hope.