There are many social injustices and challenges in the world today. How do we react to desperate human suffering? We hear from someone who has witnessed countless human tragedies and been at the forefront of advocating for social change. What motivates his compassion and care? A powerful and at times confronting conversation.
Our guest: Rev. Tim Costello. Tim Costello is one of Australia’s leading voices for social justice. He has previously worked as mayor of St Kilda, a baptist pastor, CEO of World Vision and is presently executive director of Micah Australia. Tim is a frequent media commentator, an author, speaker, former Victorian of the Year and was also named a ‘national living treasure’ and he joins me now.
This conversation was recorded in partnership with St Augustine's Anglican Church in Moreland.
This podcast episode will be available on our Monday night Facebook Premiere.
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Bigger Questions asked in the conversation
Tim - you’re apparently a national living treasure. How do you feel about that title?
The list was created to honour Australians who have made a substantial and enduring contribution to Australian life. There are a lot of sports people on the list, not so many church leaders - what do you think this list says about what Australians value?
Tim, our smaller questions today are about poverty and income inequality in the world today.
What is social justice?
So Tim is there perhaps a paradox in the world at present? Over a billion people lifted out of poverty since 1990, yet the rich are richer than ever before - is the world more or less just than in 1990?
Is inequality the driving force behind social justice issues?
Advocating for social justice
Tim you’ve been an advocate for social justice for many years, for many years you were the face of World Vision - how did you feel going into disaster areas?
You’ve seen so much suffering firsthand - how do you process that?
Was there any situation which particularly moved you?
Tim’s Story: a faith that motivates
What convinced you that the Christian faith was worth believing?
What drives you to advocate for social justice? Is it your faith or something else?
The Bible’s answer: God cares for the poor
The Old Testament book of Micah was written in the 8th Century BC to the nation of Israel who had disobeyed God and God was threatening judgement. In light of the situation of the people of God, In chapter 6 Micah writes about the response God desires. He does not want ritualistic and legalistic sacrifices, instead he shares what he wants in verse 8,
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Tim, how do you react to the exhortation, ‘act justly’?
Many of the similar themes are found in the Old Testament wisdom book of Proverbs in Proverbs 31:8-9 says,
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Do you think this captures a Biblical vision for advocacy?
How is biblical justice distinct from secular forms of justice?
The Big Question
So Tim, why advocate for social justice?