Jesus is not a poverty tourist.
We so easily replace experience, or tourism, for obedience. As we watch each day unfold on news media, we are painfully aware of the injustices around the world. Out of each one springs up a cause ready to fight it. So we "like" the Facebook page, sign the petition and learn about the problem and go on the mission trip, but then what?
Awareness and experience is good, but only the start of the discipleship process that God has for us. As we hear about the problem, we are gripped by the Savior with a realization that this is not as it should be. As God challenges us in this, He will give us opportunities to respond and bring light to injustice.
Our first answer is to become an activist as we seek to move beyond awareness. If children are dying of starvation, we respond by providing a more dependable source of food. If there is no clean water, then a well must be dug. If there are no jobs, then microfinance or other work opportunities should be introduced.
These are wonderful responses and very needed. They take us beyond awareness and into action. We will see some successes and some failures. And after a while, we will start to realize that the problem needs more than a human response. God is speaking into our lives and teaching us that action alone will not cure a sinful and fallen world.
It is only then that we are ready to consider Jesus as the solution. That is the moment we become evangelists. That doesn't mean we stop showing mercy, but it does mean that our mercy is in the context of the Kingdom and not our own efforts. Once God gives us eyes to see Jesus as the solution and we accept His role, we have a new level of power to confront the evil that clings to this world.
So as you think about your own response to evil, are you a tourist, activist or evangelist? Remember that all of them are on a continuum and are part of our growth in Christ. So wherever you find yourself today, ask Jesus to show you the next step in your service to the Kingdom.