Justice Fighters

Sometimes people ask me, “Do you really think we can end human trafficking in our lifetime?” The truth is, I don’t know. But I’m still going to fight it with every opportunity. If we fight, we can free some people from a pretty terrible life.

I can’t promise you that fighting trafficking will end it. But we can end it, and I mean end it permanently, for some people. That’s one promise I can make. We can give some people their lives back. And the men, women, and children that are saved because of our efforts are pretty happy that we showed up and fought for them. They are happy that we didn’t just sit back and say, “Well, I can’t end trafficking, so why should I try?”

Helping-HandsThink of those people whose lives were spared because we fed them. Think of those people who have clean, safe water to drink because we put in a well for them. Now they have no disease and their communities are thriving. They’re living longer and living fully because they don’t feel sick all the time. They’re happy and full of joy! I think they are pretty happy that we helped them, even if we can’t completely eliminate hunger or contaminated water in our lifetime.

I know that when we put in a well and heal a community, someone else, somewhere else, is dying of thirst. There’s plenty of that going around. And even if we fix one problem for good, another might arise. There was the plague, the “Black Death,” in the 14th century. It devastated Europe, and the Europeans were probably wondering if it would ever stop. It did. Later, we learned to understand sickness, and to treat it. Yet disease still is rampant. We handled the plague, the Spanish flu, whooping cough, and many other diseases, but still others, like Ebola, pop up. So we ask, “Can we end trafficking in our lifetime?” And I think, even if we can, another threat may arise.

But we can end trafficking for some people. We can end poverty for some people. We can end disease, sorrow, and suffering for some people. And so that’s what we do. It’s our calling as human beings in Christ, and so we rise to the call. I can’t save the whole world, but I can do my part. I can reflect Jesus by meeting a need, whenever or wherever I see one.

We are here to create the conditions of God’s justice, like freedom and health, joy and community. That’s why we’re here, so that’s what we do! We don’t have to finish the battle. It’s not an all-or-nothing proposition. We’re here to help when we see a need. That’s all.

That’s the whole purpose of life!

See you Monday.

We Are Justice Makers

Justice is making things right. Still, you might feel that no matter how much you do, no matter how many days you put in at the soup kitchen or how many blankets you crochet for refugees, it will never be enough. The need is so great. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

Think about the courts. Since the birth of this nation, they’ve been trying to create justice. That doesn’t mean there is no crime! They’ll tell you that making things right is an ongoing commitment. When Jesus was walking the streets with the disciples, He responded to a lot of poverty. People were hungry and thirsty. They were impoverished and enslaved. And when He left the Earth, it was not over. He didn’t end it while He was here.

just feed oneEven when you go to a soup kitchen day after day, and the line of people needing your help never ends, you are doing justice. When you feed one hungry person, you have still ended hunger, even if it’s only for one meal. That person was really hungry and she really needed that meal.

People who love Jesus fight for justice. It’s what we do. Loving Jesus is our identity, and we do things out of our identity. So when you love Jesus, you work to make things right.

Eventually it will end. When Jesus returns He will end it. No more pain. No more sorrow. No more trafficking. No more hunger. No more thirst. No more homelessness. No more sin. He’ll end it.

But as long as sin is on this Earth, there will be injustice. As people that live in the identity of who Jesus is, we have to live IN justice. So where there is injustice, we bring justice. Does that mean we will end all injustice? No! But that’s not why we do it. We walk the Earth as God’s people, living in righteousness and truth, and we make things right.

That is who we are.

See you Thursday.

How Do You Evangelize?

How do you evangelize? I do it by trying to reflect the characteristics of God. When I’m around people, I do what I think He would do. I feel joy around them, I’m happy, and I encourage them. I love them! These are all the things that I think Jesus did when He walked the streets with us.

A lot of times when people get around athletes, they think we have big heads, so they don’t try to talk to us. And sometimes we can’t talk to them. We have to focus on doing our jobs! But if I don’t have anything to do, I try to say hi to people in the ballpark. I’m especially focused on the kids. I want them to know that we are human beings like them. I shake their hands and encourage them. I give them high fives. I let them know that I’m real, and I make sure they know that I hope the best for them. Sometimes parents ask if I have any advice, and I tell them to let their children dream. I think they should all dream really, really big.

I try to reflect Christ in a way that’s positive. I’m not necessarily out there telling people that they need to accept Jesus as their savior. When you’re representing a sports team, it’s not really appropriate to do that. Since I don’t always talk about God, I want to make sure that I exemplify the characteristics of Christ as much as possible. That way, people might follow me into other circles, where I do talk about God. Then we can have a dialogue.

When I talk to kids at community functions, I try to do the same thing. For example, I work with kids at a homeless youth shelter, and all I want to do is love on them. So I try as hard as I can to make sure that the characteristics of God positively ooze from me. I try to have the aroma of Christ 2 Corinthians 2:15. Through the aroma that I put off, I want these kids to feel good about who they are.

And I want them to come ask me what makes me different. If they do, then I tell them that I’m trying to reflect the love that I’ve been given. That’s the love of Jesus, my Savior.

He died for me, and He gives me pure joy. I try to give that joy to them. I try to give that joy to you!

See you Monday.

Justice Beyond Anger

The Bible says there will be a day of judgment. That time will come. But right now, we just need to make things right. We need to represent the God who loves us by fixing what’s wrong. We need to reflect Him by bringing justice to those who suffer. And we need to do it with love, because that’s how He does it.

We don’t preside over Judgment Day. We don’t have the right to condemn. We don’t have the right to say to someone, “You’re going to go to hell for the rest of your life.” We don’t have the right, and we don’t have the ability. God is the only judge.

We do have the right to say, “You know what? I just want to love on you. I hope you will accept Jesus. I want to share with you what He’s done for me. And I’m going to represent Him. When you see me, I’m going to represent Him. When you have any questions, I’m going to represent Him. And when I can help out, whether it’s ending human trafficking, hunger, a water crisis, or poverty, I’m going to do it. Because that’s what it means to represent Him.”

But how am I going to do it? How am I going to help? Is there ever a place for righteous anger in the pursuit of social justice? I think you have to discern your answer. I think you have to use wisdom.

justice beyond anger

If people are suffering a water crisis, I don’t have to get angry. There’s really no place in a water crisis for righteous anger. What am I going to do, judge the Earth? Condemn the planet for not producing enough water? Obviously not! I just have to help find water.

Nor would I need anger to sit in a room with convicted traffickers. A convicted trafficker has already been judged and sentenced. If I’m going to sit with them, I’m going to explain why they have been judged that way, and I’m going to love on them. I really am. I’m going to love and encourage them, and help them repent and be forgiven. I’m going to help them to a new life, a life in Christ where no one is for sale.

But if I came across people actively engaged in the practice of trafficking, I don’t think I would love on them. If I see someone trafficking a human being, you might see me flip some tables. That might be the time for some righteous anger. Is that the right way to respond? I don’t know. It would be a good time to ask for wisdom. Would an angry reaction be a reflection of Jesus, or would it straight up be a situation in which my flesh blazes with anger? I have to trust God to guide me in those times.

But I don’t worry about it. I don’t hesitate to do what I think is right. I rely on God’s wisdom, along with my knowledge of who Jesus is. Wisdom and knowledge tell me to love my neighbor as myself and pray for my enemies. That’s what my first reaction has to be. And then I go from there. I have faith that I’ll know the right thing to do. And I’ll be confident that it comes from God, when the solution I use brings peace to me and to the world.

Justice and Peace

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

Before the playoffs began, I was reflecting on justice and righteousness, the foundations of God’s throne. Before I return to these thoughts on Christian social justice, I want to reinforce one key theme. I have said that we are called to create justice and righteousness in the world, and to do it, we need God’s wisdom. But how do we know when we are receiving God’s wisdom? The Bible has all the answers we need, but it gives us a variety of different examples. Jesus famously turned the money changers out of the Temple. Does that mean we create justice through expressions of righteous anger? Jesus also reached out in love to Zacchaeus, the tax collector, and made a disciple of him. Isn’t love our true calling?

How do we know when to be loving and compassionate, and when to grab a whip and do some cleansing? And how do we know when we’re doing what the Holy Spirit tells us to do? How do we know when we’re doing God’s will, and not just following our own will?

How do you know that the voice you hear speaking into your life is God’s?

Galatians 5I think you’ll know it because of the peace you’ll have when you’re sharing that wisdom. Have you seen people on their soapboxes sharing John 3:16, and they’re yelling? They actually think it shares Jesus to tell people, “You’re going to go to hell if you don’t believe that God gave His only son for your sins!” There’s no way those people have complete and utter peace in what they are doing. I think they want to do the right thing, but they don’t know how. So they just yell it. Their faces are angry, and they spit it out. And then they say, “There, I got the Word of God out there. Now it’s their fault if they don’t accept Christ.”

They don’t show self-control. When people challenge them they don’t even want to listen. They just keep saying the same thing over and over again. I’ve seen it happen! Someone challenges them, and they just point their finger right in their face and go on yelling about John 3:16. That’s not self-control. It’s chaos!

I think you have to ask God for wisdom all the time, and you’ll know when you receive it because you’ll feel peace about what you’re doing. You’ll see the fruit of the Spirit. That’s how you’ll know.