My Christian Fellowship has just completed its reading and discussion of Marcus Borg's The Heart of Christianity. Toward the end is a section entitled "Practicing Compassion and Justice" (pages 200-204), and I will share with you what we shared in my group.
Borg writes that the practice of compassion is the way in which Christians pay attention to God and participate in God's passion--the redemption of the world. Borg emphasizes the last word because in traditional Christian interpretations, God seeks--and therefore, so should His followers--the redemption of individuals. "God loves the world," Borg says, and the world is God's passion.
Borg goes on to say that the compassion Jesus taught works on two levels. Compassion directed toward the individual, the victim, is charity. Compassion directed toward society, social reform, is justice. Charity directly helps the victims; justice asks, "Why are there victims?" and works to transform the system that produces victimization. Both are good; both are critical. Christians are real good at charity, Borg says, but pretty weak on justice. One reason? "...charity never offends; a passion for justice often does."
What would happen if Christians, as individuals and as a group, shifted their emphasis from mostly charity to a balanced 50-50, charity-to-justice giving model? Borg challenges the reader to try it out. Rebalance your giving of time, talent and treasure to offer 50% to charitable causes that support the less fortunate and 50% to causes that strive to change the social system which produces economic, educational or social inequity. Borg suggests adding to your current donating level instead of dividing the current level in two, but hey, any movement toward the justice side would weigh in as a positive ripple.
Can you do a 50-50 balance? Are you doing it now? Share some of the efforts in which you're involved. Let us know how your rebalancing is going.