A wonderful Christian ministry, World Relief, has created an unbelievable video called 'Is Justice Worth It?' that sticks right to the heart of some of the thoughts and questions Nathanael & I have been raising on this blog. I highly recommend it.
What does our union with Christ mean for our relationship to the suffering? What does love of neighbor mean? Does loving your neighbor 'as yourself' (or as perhaps might be clearer: 'to love your neighbor no less than you love yourself') require identifying with them in their pain and suffering as if you are one? As if you are united?
Christian social ethics has often been swept one direction or another by eschatology (what will happen at the end of time); is the kingdom of God to be slowly build on earth until it is complete? Are things only going to get worse before Christ comes to fully set up His kingdom? If the latter, is seeking good for the world worth it?
These questions, while interesting, miss the point I think. No matter where things are going, it is the opposite of love to give up on your own. It is the opposite of love to give up on your suffering neighbor who is the body of the Lord to whom we are bound.
No matter what direction the world is going. No matter what failures there may be. You never give up on your own.
You never give up on Jesus.
"Do you wish to honour the body of Christ? Do not ignore him when he is naked. Do not pay him homage in the temple clad in silk, only then to neglect him outside where he is cold and ill-clad. He who said: “This is my body” is the same who said: “You saw me hungry and you gave me no food”, and “Whatever you did to the least of my brothers you did also to me” … What good is it if the Eucharistic table is overloaded with golden chalices when your brother is dying of hunger? Start by satisfying his hunger and then with what is left you may adorn the altar as well."
-St. John Chrysostom, from his Homilies on Matthew.