Good News, Bad News (Part 1)
Joel Edwards on the intimate link between Christianity and justice.
In the year 2000 The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) laid out a bold vision for the ways the developed world could assist the poorest countries out of poverty and find ways to foster better environments for the most vulnerable people and communities on the planet. The aim was to halve extreme poverty by 2015.
How did it go?
The Rev Dr Joel Edwards is the International Director of Micah Challenge – a coalition of Christian organisations that aimed to hold governments to account for their pledges made at the turn of the century. He was in Australia with TEAR international and we caught up with him to discuss the progress of the MDGs. In these videos he discusses what’s gone well; where there’s still a lot of work to do; how Australia has fallen short of its potential role in the fight to end extreme poverty; and (in this video) why Christians must be all about justice.
SIMON SMART: Tell us about the link between Christianity and justice. There’s a close link, right?
JOEL EDWARDS: Justice is like the drawbridge between the heart a God you can’t see, and his care and concern for people who you rub shoulders with on a regular basis. And so in the Christian faith, the idea that we are justified – put in a right relationship with God through Christ, which is the core of Christian faith really – moves into God’s concern about justice for neighbour, the Good Samaritan, love your neighbour as yourself. And so authentic Christian faith lived out in a hurting world, sees no distinction between justification and justice – it’s actually the same biblical word, with one focus about our relationship with God, but the other focus on our relationship with people around us who are hurting.
SIMON SMART: When any person comes up against the Christian community, what is it that they should most experience there?
JOEL EDWARDS: They should experience love. They will experience a different world view, and sometimes that’s a little bit awkward, it makes us feel slightly precious about ourselves, it can even make us seem quite superior or arrogant, that’s the downside of somebody who comes at you with a very different worldview, who sees the world in a way you might not even agree with. But I always say to my non-Christian friends, whether they are people of other faiths or none, I would always say, “Don’t judge me by the things I say which you don’t like – sin, or God, or heaven, or hell; judge me by my commitment to you, and judge me by my commitment to a better world. So, even if you disagree with what I say, mark me off if I don’t love my neighbour as myself. Then you should really mark me down, because that’s what faith is about.”