Friday, December 7, 2007

Social & Individual Healing through Communal Connection

If you know me well, then you know I am passionate about social injustice. Something that strikes me hard is the plight of those living within the street community.

I have long believed that the heart of the problem lies in broken hearts. Community programs, social assistance, low-income housing, needle-exchange, education, etc are all very important but not the answer in themselves. The true pain is in the limitation and brokenness of our relationships, and therefore the secret lies with human touch. Healing on an relational level through the growth of real and true communion between hurting individuals.

I look to the example of Jesus. How did He reach out to those forced to the outskirts of His society. He went to them, He invited them, He ate with them, He touched them. As the Christians of my generation have accepted relational evangelism, so I believe we need to accept relational service and social outreach.

During a recent visit to Vancouver, I was able to meet and interact with many individuals who do life out on the streets. I made a point of relating to each one as a new person, not lumping them into a group as a whole. Sometimes I can be guilty of this. Each of us is an individual created in God's image, and therefore in need of communion with others just as God Himself finds Communion within the Trinity and with us. I talked with all, offered smiles as I do to all people, supported some with their need for coin, and tried to offer God's love in the short interactions I had.

It was delightful to experience the joy within most of these individuals. Spending the time talking with them was not simply an act of service, but actually a time for me to be blessed.

What if each of us who seem to care about poverty and the issues that face those living on the streets actually set out to meet, grow a relationship with, and support even just one person living in extreme poverty in our cities? Would there be enough of the downtrodden to go around? I don't think so. Each person currently living on the streets would soon have at least a few individuals who care where they are each night and what they are struggling with. If this is genuine attention, then a communion between these people will grow and I truly believe some of the struggles of their lives will soon be alleviated. And also some of the struggles of our lives will be too.

I believe our deepest need is to connect with others in a way that is positively indescribable. This connection must be with God, but through others. This connection is the essence of reconciliation. Some of us have this connection. Some don't.

To reach out and connect with other individuals allows us to receive healing for many of the social and individual ills we face. This will not 'fix' the issue of poverty ("the poor you will always have"), but I believe it is the key to bringing healing to those we meet who are livin lives of pain on our streets.

I welcome your comments.

1 comment:

James Kingsley said...

i think you've hit the nail on the head with this one andy. it's just another example where "less is more" and proof that "big problems" bear human hearts we can actually relate to...