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Common Good: Call To Action

Author: Fleur Dorrell

Picture: Bible Society

Common Good: Call To Action

Fleur Dorrell unpacks an exciting and challenging new resource from the Bible Society.

From the beginning of the book of Genesis, God calls people to live in relationship with him and each other.

Why, then, are we experiencing such economic and social inequality and cultural polarisation across the Western world, as reflected in Brexit, Trump and the aftermath of the UK General Election? To what and to whom do we want to belong?

To respond to this challenge, Bible Society with Together for the Common Good, the Jesuits in Britain and the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics have created a practical tool for churches of all denominations.

Finding Common Ground

We want to model the very principles we are advocating: through finding common ground. In listening to each other’s approaches to the Bible we seek a collective voice.

The new resource, entitled Calling People of Goodwill: The Bible and the Common Good, helps churches create unity and community.

We believe all churches can be places that refuse to be tribal, spaces of welcome and encounter that address mutual suspicion.

This ecumenical and discussion-based parish resource ensures that common good principles are available to many more people.

Everyone Is Included

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah said: Seek the welfare of the city ... for in its welfare you will find your welfare.’ (Jeremiah 29.7)

This understanding of welfare is central to the common good conditions necessary for everyone to flourish. The common good promotes human dignity, relationships, participation and stewardship. It insists that everyone is included. Are we doing enough of this in our churches, jobs, schools and neighbourhoods?

In passages from Acts, Genesis, Amos, John, Peter and Revelation, we explore what the Bible says about the common good through reflections, discussion, questions and prayers.

For example, in Genesis 11: 1-8, the Babel story reveals the divisions we see in our society today between different groups reflect the same attempts by the people of Shinar to build a city for their own ends. 

From "I" To "We"

The Bible identifies many areas in which the common good is crucial for a fair society: justice at all levels, good legal processes, economic opportunity, ethical profit-making and creation-care.

The prophets consistently challenged corrupt systems in which the vulnerable and poor were exploited by the powerful and wealthy. Amos demands justice in the 'gate'-the negotiating table that could save or destroy a person’s livelihood.

He highlights how the powerful abuse the poor (Amos 5:11); and deal deceitfully in the marketplace (Amos 8:4-6).  Worst of all, they think they can please God with sacrifices whilst ignoring any relationship between justice and worship (Amos 5.24).  

Jesus throughout the Gospels shifts the focus from ‘I,’ to ‘we’, to ‘us’.He spoke out against systems which undermined the most vulnerable.

He reminds us that the private and the public are not different when it comes to issues of justice and compassion.

Our Call To Action

The recent Manchester and London terrorist attacks show that unity at all costs is necessary for our survival and our future.

Just as Christ came to reconcile us through his death and resurrection, we have to work much harder at reconciliation if we want to move from a world of fear and self-interest to one where both young and old are cherished equally.

We must challenge mechanisms which perpetuate injustice, be they in government, the church, the supermarkets, the classrooms or boardrooms.

However,we must change ourselves first in order to change the world.

Calling People of Goodwill: The Bible and the Common Good is available from: biblesociety.org.uk/commongood £3.99

  • Fleur Dorrell is Scripture Development Co-ordinator at Bible Society. 

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