The risk of being a Christian that cares about justice is that we can easily define ourselves by the people we serve. We need the poor, the oppressed, the marginalised, for our sense of identity. These people become the sole focus of our work, and it is through them at we get our sense of worth.
This is an unhealthy state of affairs. It is actually a kind of co-dependence, and a disincentive to eliminate poverty, oppression and marginalisation. If there are no poor to serve, then what will I do? How will I enact my faith? How can I understand who I am?
"Vocation is where our greatest passion meets the world's greatest need", writes theologian Frederick Buechner. I like this definition. It says that vocation based purely on the needs of others is no vocation at all. It must be met by something else: our own passion. I understand passion to mean a kind of creative impulse: a desire to make music, an imperative to write beautiful computer coding, a wish to connect deeply with others in conversation, an urge to drive a car so fast you feel like you're flying. Mix those things with the world's greatest needs, then you have a vocation:
A musician plays guitar and sings in a nursing home, causing people who can barely walk to get up and dance.
A computer engineer writes software to help doctors keep track of their patients.
A socialite talks to people on the train, and soon the whole carriage is talking.
A car-enthusiast takes a young boy, who doesn't have a dad, for a run in his V8.
Ultimately, it is our passion, our desire to built, grow, create and breathe life, that enables us to keep doing the work we do. If we are faced with only the great burdening mass of need in the world, and have no passion, then we have no ability to bring life. And we face our own deaths in this process as well.
We are called not to fix, but to create.