Societal priorities are most clearly expressed during times of scarcity. Whether it’s war, famine, or national disaster, unexpected jolts to the system causes us to move past aspirational pretenses and rally around the things we truly value. A recent example of this is the hard choices that were made during our most recent series of snow storms and subfreezing temperatures. Which streets would be plowed? Which would be neglected? Can we afford to open more homeless shelters and warming stations? Can we afford not to?
Whether it was waiting for a snow plow to liberate you from your neighborhood or feeling a pang of sympathy or guilt while driving past a homeless person battling the bitter cold, most of us have thought “there has to be a better way.” Jesus’s words, as recorded in the Gospel of John, allude to this “better way” for which most of us intrinsically yearn.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.” (John 14:15-17)
From these words we can deduct two points. The first is that Jesus considered himself an Advocate (one who helps and/or comforts), hence his reference to the coming Holy Spirit as another Advocate. Secondly, we are all called to keep Jesus’s commandments in part by emulating his identifying with and acting on behalf of the marginalized, dispossessed, and oppressed among us. However, the cross reminds us that of the very real cost often required of those seeking to be like Jesus. Thankfully, Easter morning combined with the continued existence of Christ’s Church, vindicates Jesus’ worldview and gives us the faith to follow the way of the cross.
So what does Jesus’ call to advocacy look like in practical terms?
It can be as simple as assisting a neighbor with confusing paperwork, championing policies that help our Hypothermia guests obtain permanent housing, reforming the debt trap of Payday Lending, or restructuring society so student backpack feeding programs are no longer needed. Regardless of where you choose to start, remember that you are not alone. Organizations like the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
, Bread for the World
, and the Evangelical Immigration Table
have a wealth of resources to help inform and empower your work, regardless of where you passion lies.
Throughout human history God has sent advocates to help implement God’s redemptive plan; the Prophets of old, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and now, you.