What Are We to Do?



“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on the earth. In his law the islands will put their hope.”

ISAIAH 42:1–4

The suffering servant . . . Jesus . . . us. What are we to do? What is our vocation?
In the first verse of the first of four servant poems, we are told that the servant’s vocation is to “bring forth justice.” This is a formidable task in our broken and corrupt world. But like everything else, unless we know we are loved—“my chosen one in whom I delight”—and empowered—“I will put my Spirit on him”—our work for justice will become another egodriven quest for meaning and personal validation.

We are to be like Jesus, who worked for justice out of his surrender to his Father and his love and respect for his fellow human beings. He had nothing to prove, but gave himself freely, knowing his own life was caught up in the lives of those around him. As he sought to raise people up from sickness, oppression, rejection, and death, he was doing it out of the love and power which would ultimately result in his resurrection from the dead.

So we are loved and chosen to bring forth justice. What does that mean? “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” Biblical justice is neither a standard of perfection nor an arbitrary code of conduct. It is being careful with the vulnerable. It is gently nurturing the almost-extinguished life of the broken and nearly dead.

Our experience of being loved and chosen should lead us to loving those who we may not feel like loving. That is what we are to do.




1. Who are the unnoticed and vulnerable in your community? What can you do to move them from the periphery of your attention to the centre?

2. How would you see relationship with the poor and vulnerable around you if you honestly believed that you need them more than they need you?

Don Cowie is a pastor in Downtown Vancouver. He has served there for over 20 years, and for the last six years has been leading a church plant called Mosaic @ the space, which meets in a warehouse just outside the Downtown Eastside. They are a community of broken and vulnerable people seeking to love and serve each other. Visit www.themosaic.org.



“On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honourable we treat with special honour. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty.”

1 CORINTHIANS 12:22–23

I have a weak arm from overusing it at a young age. Over the years, I needed treatment for my arm more than any other part of my body. Yet my arm remains a very indispensable and important part of my body. Understanding my body helps me to appreciate Paul’s use of the body as a metaphor that everyone in the church, regardless of specific giftedness or weakness, is indispensable to the whole.

When we have people with disabilities in our church, it is undeniable that we may need to provide special accommodations. But instead of seeing this as a burden, Paul encourages us to approach people affected by disabilities with special modesty, recognizing that they also have gifts to offer to the body.

For individuals with significant disabilities, it is not always easy to see how they can be contributing members of the body. John Knight gives us a good example on his blog.¹ John’s son, Paul, has significant developmental disabilities. He is also completely blind. At an adult age, Paul functions as an 18-month-old child. He is known to sing praises to God at the oddest of moments such as in the grocery store or at a restaurant. His singing has captured the attention of people as they recognized that he was praising God. In his own unique way, Paul was witnessing for Christ!

Behind this story is the beauty of a loving and accepting church that has been supporting John’s family. Growing up in this environment, Paul learned the praise songs, but more importantly, he cultivated the desire to praise God.

May the Lord help us to see all people, regardless of their abilities, as blessings to the body of Christ, all for his glory!



Day-14PullQuote1. What do you think it means to “treat with special honour” those among us who have special needs? What is the difference between this and treating them with pity?

2. When someone in your church who has special needs says or does something you are uncomfortable with, how have you reacted? How could you respond next time, in light of 1 Corinthians 12:22–23?

Cynthia Tam is Associate Pastor at Midtown Alliance Church in Toronto, ON. She has a strong desire to serve people with disabilities in the community. Cynthia has founded three support ministries for families with children who have special needs in different churches. She is also co-founder and president of Village Eulogia (www.villageeulogia.com), a Christian charity and community for families with children who have special needs.

¹ Knight, John. “How to Serve Families with Disability.” Desiring God, Sept. 9, 2013.

Jesus Moved Into the Neighbourhood


“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.”

JOHN 1:1–5

Jesus is “the true light that gives light to everyone . . .” (John 1:9). “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:3–5).

Jesus, the Word, “became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Jesus made his dwelling among us. He dwelt with us; he lived among us, not as a distant one, but as one who built  relationships and did life with the people he loved. Every person is a person whom Jesus loves.

The Message version of the Bible says, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish”
(John 1:14 MSG).

As people who have been sent to testify about Jesus, let’s “dwell” with people. Jesus was not—and is not—distant from us. We aren’t faceless, nameless people to Jesus. As we extend Jesus’ love in tangible ways, let’s “move into the neighbourhood” and do life with people.



1. What does “dwelling” look like in your context? What could it look like?

2. What does John 1:1–18 say about justice and compassion? What does it mean for the church and for followers of Christ today? How can I apply this today?

Denise works in the Communications department of
The Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada.

Loving and Honouring the Elderly


“Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.”

1 TIMOTHY 5:3–4

These verses give instruction to the Church to honour widows by ensuring their needs are cared for. Although it is not always the case in our current context, widows—particularly elderly ones—often have great need economically, physically, and socially. This was validated recently as the local community food bank director in my southern Ontario affluent town informed our church that the highest numbers of clientele are widowed seniors who live on a fixed income. It made me wonder in how many other communities this is a reality and what are our church families doing about it.

This passage urges church communities to intentionally monitor the needs of widows in their midst and respond accordingly. At the same time, there is a separate challenge for Christian families to care for their widows (and yes, let’s include widowers) so the full responsibility doesn’t rest on the larger church family (see 1 Timothy 5:8,16).

How do we apply this on a personal level in our day? Too often in our culture we hear stories of neglected seniors with adult children who do not have time to care for them, let alone visit them. We also live in a society that is mobile, where families live miles, even continents apart. So what do we do with a passage like this as we see that intentionally caring
for our parents is a crucial expression of our faith that pleases God?

The principle is to ensure that our own aging parents are loved and cared for with honour and dignity. As church families, we must ensure that seniors’ needs in our community are being met, not just physically, but socially and relationally as well.




1. Are you aware of a senior who may not have family close by whom you could visit and encourage with practical blessings?

2. Do you have aging parents who need your support and love?

Joanne Beach serves the C&MA in Canada as the Director of Alliance Justice and Compassion.

Community Before Activism


“Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honour.”


The path to bringing justice into our broken world does not start with activism—getting involved, educating and inspiring, giving money. It starts with people in relationship with one another. It starts with community. And communities that are healthy are gatherings of individuals who are willing to “do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honour.”

Jean Vanier—a philosopher, peacemaker, and theologist—asks fundamental questions about “being human,” like: What does it mean to be fully human? What does it mean to serve others well? How can unity be fostered among diverse people?

He suggests that, “A community should not be primarily a grouping of shock-troops, commandos or heroes, but a gathering of people who want to be a sign that it is possible for men to live together, love each other, celebrate, and work for a better world and a fellowship of peace.”¹

Thus, today my fight for justice starts not with activism, but with my willingness to make peace and keep peace with those closest to me. Only then will my advocacy have credibility, because it is rooted in the very “healthy, robust community” that my advocacy is meant to achieve for others.




1. What do you believe is the essence of community? What elements should be present in a “healthy, robust community”?

2. What does it mean for our advocacy to have credibility?

David Freeman is Vice President, Canadian Ministries for the C&MA in Canada.

¹Vanier, Jean. Community and Growth. Griffin Press Limited: 1979, p. 179.

Mini-Easter Celebration Sunday

Sunday 2

The six Sundays are not counted among the forty days of Lent because each Sunday represents a “mini-Easter” – a celebration of Jesus’ victory over sin and death.

This is the kind of fast day I’m after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts. What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families.”

— ISAIAH 58:6-8 (The Message)

Our 40 Day journey into God’s heart for justice and compassion is about to enter into week three. How is it going so far?

Throughout the 40 days, Jesus will draw us closer, not only to seek and hear His heart’s desire, but to join Him in laying down our own lives to serve the serve  people who are marginalized by circumstances of poverty, oppression and injustice.

There may be some on this journey who have been inspired to begin something new, to venture out of their comfort zone and to serve God in a new way. Some may be experiencing the heavy burden of their sacrifice and perhaps wondering what they have gotten themselves into!  For all of us however, it is good to remember that God is delighted in those who faithfully commit to overcoming personal discomfort and instead chose to rely on His strength as we closely identify with those who are hurting.

“Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering … So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” (HEBREWS 10:32-36 NLT)

Count it a privilege of living in ‘post-resurrection’ times when we have full knowledge that our hope in Christ is certain, that Jesus is alive and at work in the world and we are blessed to partner with him.

Today, let’s celebrate what we have experienced so far. Feel free to share comments, photos or videos of what has been happening in your own heart and life.

Needing the Poor More Than the Poor Need Us

Day 10

“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.”

ISAIAH 58:9B–11 (NLT)

It is interesting to see how childhood Bible stories influence one’s perspective on life. The story of the Good Samaritan, for example, shaped my attitude toward the needy. The story of Jesus’ instructions to a rich young man—sell all you have, give to the poor, and come follow me—influenced my opinion about wealth and stewardship.

Ironically, after thirty years of studying the Bible and teaching, I realized that both those stories begin with an identical question asked by two different men. But the answers Jesus gave were remarkably different. Why? It was not Christ’s intent to establish a theological treatise on wealth, sacrifice, service, or holiness. Jesus’ answer simply moved past the symptomatic question to a root issue that rested in the heart of each of these men.

The question asked was, “What do I have to do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus refocused it, exposing the limited extent of their love for God and for others. God longs for us to serve because it is in that position of humility that he transforms us.

Anytime we invest in someone other than ourselves, we take a submissive posture. From this place of submission, God begins our metamorphosis into his image. In this context, we begin to realize how much we are in need of relationship with others.

Those in need provide the perfect opportunity for us to serve. When we serve, we release the attitudes of entitlement, the demands for our rights, and the temptation to allow pleasure to dominate responsibility.

In that respect, we may need the poor more than the poor need us. People do not want us to fix their problems for them. They desire to be empowered to meet their own needs. They want to be valued and have their God-given dignity restored.



1. Think of someone you know who is in need. What would it look like for them to be valued and have their God-given dignity restored?

2. How is your love for God and for others currently limited?

Dave Collins was raised in Vietnam, the son of missionaries. Based on lessons learned as a pastor, missionary, educator, international development worker, and senior executive, he founded Paradigm Ministries in 2007. Discover more at www.paradigmministries.ca.