By Emily Smith – Leeds Methodist Mission
Last week, the country paused to remember Armistice Day; many people reflected for two minutes on the 11th, while others attended public events or church services. We cannot imagine the true numbers of people through history and across the world who have given their lives, or sacrificed their physical and mental health, for the comfort and freedoms so many of us enjoy today, and indeed, there are still many parts of the world where conflict is ongoing and people are still losing their lives.
The Bible instructs us to “learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1: 17 NRSV). With the increase in globalisation thanks in large part to technology, these instructions can have much more far-reaching implications than our immediate physical communities, and many of us are (thankfully) called to undertake them peacefully; through campaigning, fundraising, donating, debating, writing, crafting – the list goes on. I am so thankful to God that we are all blessed with different skills and we live in a place and time where we can use them to build His kingdom!
The author of Hebrews 12 paints a picture of “the race that is set before us” (v1 NRSV), and while this passage was written about keeping faith, I wonder if it can also encourage us towards doing good for longer than our initial passion for an area of injustice would naturally take us.
Every day, we can take heart from “so great a cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1 NRSV); past heroes of our faith and perhaps also those we stand beside in our activism. We must “…lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely…” (v1), perhaps through Bible Study, reflection, and prayer. And we must keep “looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith…” (v2), fixing our eyes on the Cross.
As we enter the Christmas period, and perhaps begin to think about what 2022 will look like, maybe this could also be an opportunity to reflect on how you feel about the good you do, and the justice you seek. Is there anything you could do to improve your stamina or urgency, “[running] with perseverance the race that is set before [you]?” (Hebrews 12:1 NRSV).