Killing Ourselves

I don’t know the suffering of people outside my front door / I join the oppressors of those I choose to ignore / I’m trading comfort for human life / and that’s not just murder it’s suicide / This too shall be made right //

These lyrics were written by Derek Webb, a spokesman for Blood:Water Mission, for the closing song on his new CD, The Ringing Bell. As the name of this blog attests, I want to rebel against indifference. That includes indifference toward others’ needs. And not because I might occasionally feel a tinge of guilt for not helping others but because I believe it does something to us when we ignore those around us.

In an interview Derek did recently with The Washington Times, while talking about what he is rebelling against and his involvement with Blood:Water Mision, he said “A mother and her children who have to walk 15 miles a day every day to get dirty water to put into their bodies with a broken immune system that will eventually kill them is the right thing to rebel against.”

As someone who loves beverages, from a cup of hot coffee in the morning to juice and tea throughout the day to a glass of wine or a Guinness over dinner, it’s sometimes hard for me to imagine going without something as basic as clean water. But unfortunately, it is a fact of life for many people, and a foundational cause of many diseases. Dr. Lee Jong-wook, former Director-General of the World Health Organization, has said “Water and Sanitation is one of the primary drivers of public health. I often refer to it as ‘Health 101,’ which means that once we can secure access to clean water and to adequate sanitation facilities for all people, irrespective of the difference in their living conditions, a huge battle against all kinds of diseases will be won.”.

Blood:Water Mission, a non-profit organization started by the guys in Jars of Clay, is helping to address this problem.

Blood:Water Mission exists to promote clean blood and clean water efforts in Africa, tangibly reducing the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic while addressing the underlying issues of poverty, injustice and oppression. Blood:Water Mission is building clean water wells, supporting medical facilities, and focusing on community and worldview transformation, both here in America and in Africa.

We recognize that numbers and statistics are hard to grasp, and that sometimes a step back is necessary to conceptualize the enormity of the HIV/AIDS crisis. Yet we also know that simply standing from a distance with arms thrown in the air is not a solution. We believe in pressing inward, in building relationships and bridges with communities in Africa. We believe in hearing personal stories and walking alongside brothers and sisters who have demonstrated strength and faith in the midst of desperate and tragic situations.

We hold fast to the conviction that we are all responsible for being good stewards of our time, our resources and our compassion in a broken world.

Every person has something to give in return for what has been received.

Please join us on this journey.

(from www.bloodwatermission.com)

How You Can Help:

While Blood:Water has several ways to get involved listed on their website, one of the programs I like most is their Two Weeks of Sacrifice campaign. The gist of it is to encourage people to go for two weeks drinking water as their only beverage, and then donating what you would have spent on other beverages to Blood:Water Mission. You can find more details about that program and other ways you can make a difference at their website, www.bloodwatermission.com.

Toward the end of his song White Dove, Andrew Osenga keeps repeating the line “Every sad thing will become untrue.” As we live in the tension of the already-and-not-yet of the Kingdom of God, as we embrace its paradoxical nature and hope and wait for everything to be made new, let us live our lives today as evidence of the redemptive work of Christ so that others may hear and see the echoes of His Kingdom in all we say and do.

40 Day Fast: Day 6

For today’s post, Chaotic Hammer blogs about his journey from callousness to healing and Compassion International’s work in addressing the AIDS crisis.

I spent many years with what was quite frankly a wrong heart regarding the people suffering from HIV/AIDS. I was told it was a judgment from God against sinful sex, or drug use, and I chose to believe that there was nothing I could do about it anyway. I heard about it so often in the news that I chose to harden my heart and close my ears. Eventually, I had to repent and acknowledge that the heart of Jesus was broken over this, and that if I really want to be part of His ministry on the earth, I need to be willing to extend His Grace freely to others, just as He has done to me.

Read the rest of his post here.

Giving a damn

When I started this blog, I explained that the name, Rebelling Against Indifference, comes from a speech that Bono gave where he said “If I am honest, I’m rebelling against my own indifference. I am rebelling against the idea that the world is the way the world is and there’s not a damned thing I can do about it. So I’m trying to do a damned thing.”. I said that I didn’t want to sit back and become indifferent to things happening around me, that I didn’t want to become complacent. I want to continue to believe that I, that we, can make a difference, and that we can do more than just talk about it. I want to give a damn about the messed up things in this world, even if they don’t affect me. So, to that end, I’ve joined with Kat and 38 other bloggers to remind ourselves that it is “about something other than us”.

Here’s what Kat wrote about the 40 day fast:

Who:
40 bloggers who will each fast for 1 day.

What:
They will blog about the experience as well as an area of need in the world (either a cause or a country) and an organization that strives to meet that need.

They will also link to the blogger who is fasting on each day of the fast and encourage their readers to join the fast on the 40th day.

Why:
The purpose behind it is to give people an opportunity to:
1. Experience a bit of need
2. Learn about the need in the world
3. Do something about it

How:
We need you. We’ve got all 40 bloggers for the fast but here are some other ways you can get involved:
Follow along each day and read about each of the causes.
Place one of the logos on the sidebar of your blog.
Post a link each day to the blogger who is fasting.
Join us in fasting on the 40th day (July 31st).
Get involved in one of the organizations mentioned each day.
Start your own 40 day fast from your blog.

Kat wrote the first post today, on Compassion International, that you can read here.

And here’s a calendar with links to all the bloggers involved, courtesy of Euphrony.

June 2007
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
22
Kat
23
Brant Hansen
24
SAM
25
Shaun Groves
26
Kristen
27
Chaotic Hammer
28
Stephanie
29
Stephen
30
Jeanine
July 2007
1
Truevyne
2
Ryan G.
3
Jeremy Thiessen
4
Steven
5
Susanne
6
Valerie
7
William Guice
8
Todd
9
Scott
10
Transition Pete
11
Marianne
12
Mark Jaffrey
13
Michelle
14
Lucas Parry
15
Tim Harm
16
Andrew Osenga
17
Shawn
18
Lorijo
19
Euphrony
20
Brody Harper
21
Amy
22
Erin Mount
23
Dray
24
Jessica
25
Los
26
Mom
27
Ted
28
Charla
29
Rick
30
Tressa
31
Toby

Labels and Connotations

Back in January, I spent a weekend in Pigeon Forge with some friends, staying up way too late and having great discussions. One of the topics that came up was what we, as Christ-followers, should call ourselves, something I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about.

I was raised as a Fundamentalist. I grew up going to one of the largest and most influential Independent Baptist churches in the country, Highland Park Baptist Church. My Great-Grandfather, John R. Rice, even wrote a 262 page book in 1975 titled I Am a Fundamentalist, published by the Sword of the Lord Publishers, which he founded. The only thing that I knew about Southern Baptists growing up was that they were liberal. I attended Tennessee Temple University, the school associated with Highland Park, for a year after high school (after auditing classes there while in high school), and then spent 16 months at a decidedly conservative Bible Institute in San Miguel del Monte, Argentina, just outside of Buenos Aires. But it has been at least 6 years since I’ve referred to myself as a Fundamentalist.

So, for those who escape Fundamentalism, what’s next? Evangelical is the next main category. I like the distinction that Daniel Wallace made between evangelicals and fundamentalists in his paper My Take on Inerrancy: “After all, one of the things that makes an evangelical different from a fundamentalist is that an evangelical is supposed to be willing to wrestle with the evidence. One of the hallmark differences between a fundamentalist and an evangelical is willingness to dialog over the issues. A fundamentalist condemns; an evangelical thinks.”

But, while there are many things I like and agree with in Evangelicalism, one of my biggest disagreements is with those who like to think they speak for all Evangelicals. I do appreciate those who, like Joe Stowell, former President of Moody Bible Institute and now a pastor at Harvest Bible Chapel, try to point out the fallacy of such broad stroke declarations. A couple of years ago he said “Is Falwell an evangelical, is Robertson an evangelical? Yes. Are they the definition of evangelicalism? No. [Evangelicalism] is a broad swath of individuals with differing opinions. Evangelicalism has to be defined by what we all have in common, and not what the political views of one or two of us might be.”

Unfortunately, most people still think Evangelicalism is, or should be, a unified movement (and voting block). So one reason I don’t identify myself as one is because of the (largely correct) stereotypes that are associated with the label.

A new category that is emerging is called, aptly enough, the emerging movement. And again, there are a number of things I like that are happening in and because of it. But ultimately, I don’t want to be known by any label. As Charlie Peacock wrote in A New Way to Be Human, if our actions match up with what Christ has called us to, “the necessity of naming ourselves will fade”.

“I’ve decided my work is to step into the Story with intentionality and live a life framed and filled with God-thoughts about reality – what Jesus has said life is really about. My goal is not to be a born-again Christian, a good Christian, a religious fanatic, a do-gooder, a spiritual person, a nice guy, an American evangelical, or a good Catholic. My hope is that others will name me as an honest-to-God student follower of Jesus, someone with a heart full of His brightness, following in the new way. It’s not wise to name yourself as a Christian unless you are actually embodying the way of Messiah Jesus. If you are embodying the way, it will be as obvious as Jesus was obvious. If it is obvious, the necessity of naming yourself will fade. Others will do it for you. Questions may arise, and if so, you answer them. If people want to know why you head in one direction and not another, tell them who you’re following.

If those who would critique my life choices don’t see in those choices the distinctive teachings and visible kingdom ways of Jesus – what He’s for and against – they will never name me as His follower. They’ll call me something else, and I don’t want to be called anything else. I want people to ask, “What’s the deal with him?”
Answer: “Him? Oh he’s with Jesus.””

Sara Groves’ song How Can I Tell resonates strongly with me. She sings:

How can I tell this story again to make you wonder when / You stopped believing / How can I paint a picture of this kind of love / This kind of healing // So I’ll expand my vocabulary / Spend some time in the local library / Analyze the archetypes / Anything to get this right // Cause the train that leaves the station / Is loaded down with connotation / When what you hear and what I say / Are night and day//
How can I tell this story again to make you wonder when / You stopped believing / How can I paint a picture of this kind of love / This kind of healing //

So whether you identify yourself by these one of these labels or don’t find any that fit, Sara’s words issue a challenge that I hope all of us will accept.