Thanks so much for your recent column on practicing good deeds or acts of kindness. In this day of “It’s all about ME,” we need your reminder that our lives are richer, fuller, and ultimately more satisfying when we are watching out for the needs of others.
Reading the column caused me to ponder and to remember that there are different ways to think about doing good as they were exemplified and taught by Jesus, the founder of our Christian faith. We are prone to think more often of Jesus’ practice of acts of kindness. But it was his commitment not just to acts of kindness but to acts of justice that ultimately brought him into conflict and to his death at the hands of the power structure administered by religious and political leaders. In our United Methodist Women literature, we’ve had the opportunity to study and compare acts of charity/kindness/mercy and acts of justice as outlined by Beverly Reddick a few years back in our RESPONSE magazine. Though it unsettles me and makes me uncomfortable, it is good for me spiritually to go back often and re-read her work:
Charity (Mercy/Kindness) Justice
A matter of responding to A matter of addressing public policy and
specific individual needs systems to benefit the whole of humanity
Helps a few people Makes a difference for many people
Seeks to alleviate the effects of Seeks to eliminate the causes of
injustices asking: What is the need? of injustices asking: Why does the
Maintains the status quo Leads inevitably to addressing political
power and there may be confrontation
Can be done individually Requires organizing and building
or by a few a community
Is short-term fix Is a long-term fix
Sharing of things and money Requires personal engagement and
Safe, easy, comfortable Risky, demanding, and may
push our boundaries and comfort level
I would often like to say, “I’m only one person. What difference does my small effort for charity or justice make?” But then I remember that my spiritual mandate says, “You are not called to be successful; you are called to be faithful.” I think that means Jesus’ example and God’s call are for me both to do acts of kindness and to work for justice. How else can I be sincere in my prayer “Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth. . .”?
I’m grateful for your columns. They often provoke me to deeper thought. This one did, and I appreciate it and I appreciate you.