Challenges stimulate both reaction and action
Some challenges feel and are very personal and can, at first, disable us until we’ve had time to assimilate the information or new situation. Diagnosis of life-changing illness, for instance, is a challenge that isn’t going to go away. It’s a challenge that we need to learn how to cope with. We have to decide how we’re going to react to this new reality, and what approach we’re going to take to living with a continuing challenge.
Other challenges are, at first sight, more corporate, and less personal. Examples include those associated with the environment, the economy, the future for our young people, how we maintain dignity for the elderly. These kind of challenges are large and won’t go away either – at least not quickly or easily. But this kind of challenge can become very personal if they become a spur to a different way of life and thinking. As humans, we can ignore these challenges, bury our heads in the sand, as it were – but as Christians we’re called to face up to these challenges and offer hope and wholeness into those situations.
Working to relieve poverty is one such challenge. The topic of the quotation below has urged many people to action. It has also led people to radical ways of living as a result of the challenge. What challenges in today’s world can you pick up and work on as part of your discipleship?
[Source: ‘On Human Worth’, by Duncan B Forrester, (SCM, 2011) p160]
“Archbishop Romero, in an address at Louvain, affirmed the preferential option for the poor in entirely non-Marxist terms, and argued that it was a way of avoiding ‘false universalism’ and expressing the universalism and equality of God’s love:
‘The world of the poor, with its very concrete social and political characteristics, teaches us where the world can incarnate itself in such a way that it will avoid the false universalism that inclines the church to associate itself with the powerful. The world of the poor teaches us what the nature of Christian love is, a love that certainly seeks peace but also unmasks false pacifism – the pacifism of resignation and inactivity. It is a love that should certainly be freely offered, but that seeks to be effective in history. The world of the poor teaches us that the sublimity of Christian love ought to be mediated through the overriding necessity of Justice for the majority. It ought not to turn away from honourable conflict. The world of the poor teaches us that liberation will arrive only when the poor are not simply on the receiving end of handouts from governments or from the church, but when they themselves are the masters of, and protagonists in, their own struggle and liberation, thereby unmasking the roots of false paternalism, including ecclesiastical paternalism.’”