Faith in Action Devotionals
We hope you get a blessing from the two devotionals on this page, featuring justice and action. These devotional readings are both part of a month long "Faith in Action" series published by Outreach North America, our denomination's U.S. church planting and church vitality organization. Daniel and Mariah are two of our younger people at Arsenal Hill. May the Lord meet you in a special way as you read on. Enjoy!
ISAIAH 1:17, by Daniel Turner, George Washington University
One of the best pieces of advice I have heard concerning the cause of justice was from Bryan Stevenson, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. During an event about the criminal justice system in America he said, “You cannot advance justice without doing the uncomfortable.” I found this to be a powerful truth and one that can easily be witnessed in the life of Jesus.
There are so many examples of Jesus doing what is uncomfortable in order to do what is right. Jesus talks with the Samaritan woman at the well, something that most Jewish people would never do. Jesus spent time with the undesirables and the tax collectors, the outcasts of society, all in order to show His love. And Christ has called us to behave in the same way.
Having grown up in Turkey, I have experienced what it means to be uncomfortable. It’s not always comfortable to be a Christian in a majority Muslim country. It’s also not comfortable to have to adapt to the culture of another people. I remember the long visits with Turkish neighbors that would seem to drag on for hours, late into the night. I remember thinking, “Why can’t this visit just be over?” as they brought out the next round of tea. But, looking back, I see how God uses his people in these uncomfortable moments to show his mercy to the lost and to give strength to the oppressed. I know that thanks to those many long hours my parents spent drinking tea with Turkish friends, some have come to Christ.
During other long visits, I have also heard some of the most amazing stories of faith from Iranian refugee friends. However, it isn’t just when we travel to another country that we should enter uncomfortable situations. We have to be willing to get uncomfortable in our own communities. This year I had the great opportunity of doing a job shadow with the Richland County Public Defender Office, a place where those who can’t afford representation receive legal counsel. Here I saw people who cared for and stood up for the oppressed. I saw people who were taking part in the suffering of the distressed. I saw people willing to get uncomfortable. One way we actively live out our faith is by speaking out and standing up for the oppressed, even when it puts us in uncomfortable situations. In the words of Isaiah 1:17, "Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”
GO DO, by Mariah Stewart, University of South Carolina
My relationship with God is characterized by Him pointing to the one thing I don’t want to do and then saying, “Go do that.” Yes, THAT thing- that uncomfortable, embarrassing, terrifying thing. And no, not anybody else – YOU.
It all started in sixth grade at a summer youth Christian camp when I felt Him calling me to reach out to the outcasts at my middle school… but this seemed like a strange thing to ask of an introvert who was an outcast herself. During my freshman year of high school, a new exchange student from Thailand joined our marching band. When nobody else seemed to be interested in befriending her, God pointed the finger right at me. At the time, the simple act of introducing myself to a stranger – especially when nobody else was making the effort to do so – was terrifying. But what began as a command from God, turned into a great friendship and the start to what would become my way of living out a life that displays the love of Christ.
The next year brought a new round of exchange students to our school, and soon I was the official welcoming committee. Not only did I befriend these students, but I was able to share the gospel with them. My junior year of high school, my family began hosting exchange students, one of whom had never even heard of Christianity. I wasn’t ready to share the gospel with her, but again God commanded me to take a leap forward – and now, three years later, she is attending a local church. This exposure to the international community led to my interest in studying the Russian language, my current major in college. Since then I have volunteered at an English camp in Ukraine, where many Ukrainian students were saved. I travelled all across Eastern Europe during my year of study abroad, during which I was the only Christian in our student group and was able to introduce the gospel to one of my friends.
At each step, at each person, God asked me to step out and do something, or say something that seemed ridiculous or scary at the time. EVERY time, that simple act of faith has led to long-lasting relationships and life-changing chains of events. To me, Christianity is not a faith of “don’ts.” It’s a faith of “go do.”