Bible Verse: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23)

Scripture Reading: 1 John 4:1-21

Faith is knowing in your heart who you are in God and in one another, why you are, and what you are called to be and do, together with others. It involves becoming living demonstrations of doing justice, showing mercy and walking humbly with our God, who is the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of everyday life. Biblical faith is a life active in daily deeds of justice and mercy, humility and compassion, faithfulness and solidarity. Faith is always expressed in life, and our lives always reflect what we believe. If we lead lives that contribute to injustice, inequity, exploitation, exclusion, discrimination and oppression, then – whether we realize it or not – our actions reflect certain values that we hold dear. That is how concrete faith is.

Indeed, no action is “value-free” or somehow divorced from faith. How important it is, then, to hold to the core values that flow from biblical teachings. We need to express them personally, communally and publicly in such a way that the powers-that-be – powers that probably should not be – know that there is another way of living.

Communal advocacy takes strong issue with the dominant ideology of individualism. Communal advocacy is rooted in the biblical statement of Proverbs 4:23 which reminds us that what lives in the heart makes a difference. From out of the heart flow the issues and ways of life. From out of the heart come the relationships that we build in life. From out of the heart emerge the structures of life. The way we think about persons, communities, education, the environment, social programs, economics and politics therefore emerges from what lives in our heart. As Jesus reminded his disciples, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34). Put in another way, the heartfelt beliefs or core values that we hold dear express themselves in the ways in which we live and work. They become evident in the ways in which we organize Canadian society and support those measures designed to build a quality way of life for all people.

In that way of life no one is excluded or discriminated against. Everyone is affirmed and respected. Everyone is enabled to participate fully to his or her heart’s desire in the life of the community. That vision is the goal towards which we are walking together, in faith. But walking down that path requires accepting different core values than many now practice in our society. We need to rediscover, articulate and demonstrate in a new and fresh way what the biblical imperatives or core values of compassion, justice, community, solidarity, stewardship, equity, and human dignity are all about and how they could shape a new way of life for all people.

I want to sum up these core values in one principle. It is the principle of mutuality, as practised in mutual respect and mutual responsibility. Through these practices we affirm one another.

— Gerald Vandezande in Justice, Not Just Us
© Public Justice Resource Centre, 1999.

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