Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Advocate-Counselor

The Lord calls His followers to justice. I love the verse in Micah 6:8 which says that the Lord requires of us to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God and with men. Until tonight, I have had yet to experience such a heavy weight of responsibility as a counselor. There is a call for justice, and those who cannot speak for themselves need someone to speak for them. If it is true that the Bible mentions over 500 times the topics of the poor, the widows, and the orphans, I need to aid in their protection and care. This means advocacy. Jesus plowed the way of turning the social structure upside down, where the poor populate God’s family, and that it is virtually impossible for the rich to inhabit the kingdom of heaven. The way up is down in the economy of the Lord. The Lord has provided the world with enough resources, if those who have in abundance will give freely to those who have not.

John Wesley continually emphasizes the social responsibilities of Christians. I love his elevation of social holiness. We do not live in vacuums, and we inhabit a world full of broken people. I am reminded of a verse that the Lord has lain continuously on my heart. Isaiah 61 says that the Spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bind up the brokenhearted, to bring freedom for the captives, and release to the prisoners, to bestow on those who weep a garland of praise. His Spirit is upon me not for my own benefit alone. His Spirit has anointed me to go out and love through many means. One of those means is through the pursuit of justice and social advocacy. Who will act on the behalf of those who are crushed if those who are enabled to do so choose to do nothing? In my education and knowledge of the oppressed and poverty-stricken, I am now responsible. I think of the song “Albertine” by Brooke Frasier, which says, “now that I have seen, I am responsible. Faith without deeds is dead.” There was bliss in my former ignorance, but now that ignorance has been eradicated. Now I must choose how to respond.
In the system of righteousness, I acknowledge that God is the God of retributive justice. I leave that up to Him. I have responsibility in the realm of sharing the message of restorative justice, where Christ died for the sinners. Next, I have the calling to administer distributive justice through sharing all that I have with those who have nothing.

I am so quick to forget the affluence that I live in. I consider the debt that I am building and the very tight budget that I operate on. I restrict my driving to save gas money, and calculate expenses so that I can come up positive in my bank account. Working as a work study, I devote my income strictly to tuition. I am living on borrowed money. My privilege is that I have access to this borrowed money, and that I will finish this process more qualified and equipped to generate a stable income. There are many who are infinitely worse off than I am. This was an incredible eye-opener tonight after several weeks of self-pity and panic. There are many who have limited educational, emotional, social, and foundational resources, leading to deeper despair. This is despair leads to a soul poverty that runs much deeper than a bank account. It is a poverty of soul, and this is the poverty that destroys.

As a counselor grows out of self, there is a universal awareness, and a more global calling. We cannot interact with individuals on a micro-level and not find ourselves broken for society on a macro-level. I am almost inclined at this point to consider it unethical to counsel and not to feel the need to advocate on some level. Deeper understanding of the core issues of humanity leads to a greater awareness of the global need for healing and restoration. This sounds amazingly exhausting and discouraging. I am sure that there are great rewards along the journey as well. It has to be a calling, or else it will grow very old very quickly. I feel the calling, however, and I cannot do anything but respond as Isaiah did. Therefore, I stand up in this system of injustice and cry, “Here I am Lord! Send me!”

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