Fight With Love: A Message From Executive Director Chris Purnell

 
 Chris Purnell

Chris Purnell

 

It’s easy to become a grumpy justice warrior. I take one look around and see the high level of need in my city, community, or country, and become jaded by the wallop of mess that pounds me in the solar plexus. Then, I get mad—mad at the systems that continually allow people to be exploited, mad at the communities that have been neglected because they are not deemed worthy of care, and mad at others who don’t see the world the way I do.

Maybe I’m alone on this one?

It’s true: I can get sullen and downcast, like one of those angry cat memes that proliferate on the internet. However, why do I get angry? And, more importantly, should I? The reason I get angry is twofold: first, I have a visceral reaction to seeing people being kept from flourishing as God intended. Second, there’s a part of me that thinks anger solves problems.

Here’s the funny thing: it doesn’t. Anger has a wonderful way of making everything patently worse.

And this is a lesson that I learned from the very clients that I’ve become angry for. Many of them have seen atrocious things, experienced unspeakable oppression, and gotten caught up in systems of injustice that grip them and their communities like an insatiable python. But, for many of them, their reaction is startling and peculiar. They don’t become angry and embittered—they turn to love.

First, they love those in their community that may have it a little worse than they do. Jesus is able to meet us in our weakness and brokenness because he understands us, he empathizes with us (Hebrews 4:15). The same holds true for these folks. Second, and even more remarkably, they walk in love and forgiveness for those who harm them. Obviously, they flee the dangerous situation first, but ultimately they turn to forgiveness.

Which brings me to the Psalms. Psalm 89:14 says “righteousness and justice are the foundation of [God’s] throne”—so far, so good. Nevertheless, the psalm goes on to say, “love and faithfulness go before you.” God is both just and loving, righteous and compassionate. And that is what he calls us to.

When you are fighting injustice, be sure to fight it with love. When you are talking to your friends and family about the importance of focusing on under-resourced communities, convince with compassion. And when you walk alongside the poor, those who have been directly impacted by unjust systems, walk with grace. Because anger only begets more anger, as they say.

May you walk as our Risen Savior did, with grace and justice; may his heartbeat of love and righteousness be your heartbeat; and may we be known as winsome lovers of justice, rather than as grumpy-cat warriors.

Until Justice and Peace embrace,

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Chris

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