“He has told you men what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: Only to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
Today we celebrate the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King who did so much for civil rights. Because of our nation’s history with slavery, we have treated people of color very differently. There is honestly no reason for this. Here’s the thing: our skin color has nothing to do with our capacity to excel in anything we put our hand to doing.
In fact, race as we define it today, based on the color of someone’s skin did not exist until the slave trading ships began kidnapping people from Africa and bringing them to be sold as slaves. This was an atrocious practice that should never have occurred. Unfortunately, many Christians justified this practice based on some of the Old Testament laws that governed how Israel was to treat the slaves they had. Which by the way was far more compassionately than how the slaves in this country were treated. It is interesting that they used the laws to justify having slaves but then did not apply the Old Testament law in their treatment of the slaves they owned.
The bottom line is God never intended for people to own other people. God intended that we treat one another with love. And the biblical definition for love is a sacrificial love that intentionally desires the highest good for other people. And of course the other people being referenced is all people no matter who they are. If they think or look or act differently than we do it doesn’t matter, we are called to love them. Period. God does not discriminate.
And so, as Christians, one of our highest callings is to work for justice for all people. And there are many ways we discriminate and justify our discrimination in this world. But…When we read the prophet Micah, we learn what God has told us God wants from us. We are to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
Acting justly is easy when we are dealing with people who look and think like we do. But get into a conversation with someone who has a very different way they do life and see if you don’t catch yourself condemning how they think. Or getting angry at them for how they think. Or even discriminating against them and by extension anyone else you meet that looks like them and you judge based on your interactions with that one person. We all do this. We all need to be aware that we do this. And more importantly, we all need to understand this is unjust. Because what does God want from us? To act justly.
And Justice is hard. We don’t always understand what acting justly might look like in our life. Sometimes, if it is something that doesn’t impact us we don’t worry about it. Even though we should. So, here is an example: Did you know that in Brevard County the average rent is 1500 dollars a month? Did you know that someone making $15.00 an hour would need to work 100 hours per week in order to afford a rent price of 1500 dollars a month? There is a lack of affordable housing in Brevard County. There is a lack of affordable housing across America. And affordable housing means the place we are living is safe, secure, and in good repair. The lack of housing that people in lower income brackets can afford is a justice issue. Why? Everyone should be able to find some place that is safe to live. Children especially need a secure place to live for their own stability.
When people are having to spend between 50 and 80 percent of their income on housing, they are left trying to figure out how to buy food, pay for medical expenses, utilities, car payments and insurance and all the other monthly expenses that are incurred by an individual or family. If you are using 50 to 80 percent of your income on housing costs…well, you can see, the working poor are left with very little to ensure they are able to live. All because we do not have affordable housing. Organizations like Habitat for Humanity, and Family Promise are working toward these goals but in order to really fix the problem we need to advocate for affordable housing to be built in our area. Faith communities can band together to act justly and make a difference in the lives of the many people who struggle to find and maintain housing for themselves and their families. Because what is it God requires from us? To act justly.
How can we help? Brevard Justice Ministries is taking on the task of affordable housing. And we need your help. We need you to be involved. We need you to help organize, to come to the Nehemiah action in May, to be a voice for the voiceless in our world but especially in our county. We need you, all of you. Because unfortunately, there is no one at the political level in Brevard county advocating for affordable housing at this time. In order to get this accomplished we need to stand up and say this is something we not only want for our community but we need it. And please know I am not talking about building “projects” as they are known in most cities. I am talking about building homes that don’t cost 300,000 dollars or more, or having apartment complexes that have a percentage of apartments set aside with lower rent rates. I am talking about people being able to spend 30 percent or less of their income on housing costs so they can afford all their other expenses.
Here’s the thing: If I were just moving into Brevard County making what I make right now, I could not afford to buy the home I live in. Housing costs in our county have increased dramatically and incomes have not. Many hard working families are struggling. They are having to move further away from the jobs they have in order to find a home they are marginally able to afford. Which only adds to the costs they spend on gas and other car expenses. Expenses they need to keep low in order to pay for housing. And this is only one example. This is a problem. This is not ok. This is a justice issue.
For those of you who do not live in Brevard County, Florida…I guarantee there are people living in your areas who are struggling to find affordable housing. I urge you to find ways you can advocate for affordable housing where you live. This is a crisis in our country. We can solve this IF we all work together for justice. We may not be the orator that Dr. Martin Luther King was when he stood up to fight for civil rights, but that doesn’t mean we can’t follow his example and stand up and fight for affordable housing for all people.
There are many justice issues in our world today, but affordable housing is at the top of the list. And remember, what does God require of us? To act justly.
P.S. I did not add any of the statistics to my post today. But if you are interested, I would go to the Family Promise website as they have many statistics that involve families. Also, you can do a quick google search and get a lot of information about affordable housing. Here are just two for those interested in learning more:
America’s Affordable Housing Crisis: A Contract Unfulfilled (nih.gov)