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.

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.

A Global Society of Service

Sometimes people ask me, “Why do you say you pitch for other people? What makes you focus so much on others?”

The answer is pretty simple. I care about other people. I love them! And that’s because I love the God that created them. It’s the same God that created me. He saved my life, so of course I want to help save the lives of others.

I’m focused on success for the same reason. It’s because I want to achieve something, not only for myself, but for those who do not have. I want to achieve something for those who do not have food or clean water. I want to achieve something for orphans and victims of human trafficking. Imagine being hungry, or having a contaminated water supply. Imagine what happens to children who don’t have a parent to love them. Imagine what it’s like to be deprived of your freedom! These are the lives I want to help save.

I’d love to see that same approach to success take root in society. Go find a random person right now, anywhere you like, behind a desk or on a ball field or in a doctor’s office. Anywhere you like. Ask them if they get up in the morning and set a goal to achieve something. They’ll probably say yes. But then ask them, do they do it in order to help provide for someone who does not have? Most people are going to say no, I don’t think that way when I set goals.

What happens we approach kids with the idea? It turns out they love it! I’ve seen it in my work with Team Not For Sale and the Something to Eat campaign. In these organizations, I see kids setting goals to achieve something just so they can help someone else. They’ll say, “I guarantee you I can come up with fifteen cents to feed someone.” Or they’ll say, “I guarantee you I can come up with five cents to help with Not For Sale. I can do chores and I’ll raise a dollar!” They follow through, too, because for them, helping those in need is a priority.

earth love

Involving young people in projects like these is the best way to transform society. We’re helping them see that they can live their entire lives according to the idea that success is for them and for somebody else. This motivates them to be the best at what they do. They’ll work hard to become leaders at their jobs and in their communities.

They’ll also realize how big they can dream. They’ll set goals to be CEO’s and successful entrepreneurs, because they’ll realize how powerful it is to be the one to make the rules. One of those rules can be to devote a portion of their company’s revenues to building orphanages, or responding to food and water crises. Or they’ll find a way to put an end to slave labor in their industry.

Showing up to help a person or a community that does not have is holy. It really is. The effects are felt everywhere. People know they have been helped, and they want to do the same thing. They know that someone provided for them by setting goals and dreaming dreams. So now they set goals and dream dreams. Now they achieve for the sake of others. Now it goes global.

When we think about about how to help others, we are motivated to excel in our jobs and our lives. We work harder for success when we know that our success can actually help. I really hope we can all learn to think this way.

The Least of These

Here’s part of what Jesus says in Matthew 25:

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Matthew 25:31-40

“You did it for me.” You see? When you feed somebody who’s hungry, clothe somebody in need, visit somebody in prison, or help the hurting, the dying, the people that are in pain, Jesus says, “You have done that to me, because they are a part of me. Whether they live for me or not, they are still a part of me. I created them.”

image credit: chapelfield.org

image credit: chapelfield.org

God created man and woman in His own image. When He did that it was as if He said, “I’ve created you with me in you.”

You have the spirit of God inside of you. When you were in your mother’s womb, God said, “I created you in my own image. You are part of me. And though you may sin, and though you may fail, you will be fulfilled in me.”

Now think about that. If something created by you, a part of you, is under attack, you feel attacked. I mean, if you attacked my son, I would feel attacked. If you attacked my wife, I would feel attacked. And if you go up to my son and give him a hug and show him love and care, then that’s how you feel about me. I feel it.

We’re creations of the Almighty God, and I think He feels the same way. We are sons and daughters of Zion. We are part of His family. So when He sees someone that is hungry, He feels it. He is hungry.

That’s what He means when He says, “If you do this for the least of these, then you’ve done this for me.”

See you Monday.