one of the ideas that's been going round my head a bit after last week is this idea of the difference between justice and mercy. Maclaren illustrates it this way:
if you're standing at the side of a river and you see someone drowning and you help them and pull them out of the river, that's mercy. Perhaps, as you're standing there you see more people - lots perhaps - also in danger of drowning. so you help them too. at some point though, someone needs to go upstream and find out why all of these people are ending up in the river and hopefully stopping it happening. that's justice. we need both and the church needs to be involved in both. some people in the church will be better at one and some better at the other. we need people who have a vision for feeding the hungry, and people who have a vision for dealing with the causes of their hunger (trade justice etc.).
but we must take this more seriously. i think it's all about how we understand the gospel - but i'll say some more about that at another time.