Making Things Right

Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. Luke 6:37

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

Here’s a confusing thing about Christianity: you’re not supposed to judge, but you’re supposed to do justice. For some people, that might seem contradictory. It can definitely be confusing.

One way to think about justice is to think about a courtroom. In a courtroom, justice is served by a judge, and the judge’s role is to judge someone on the basis of the evidence put before him. In that situation, justice is founded on judgment. They’re almost the same thing.

But the courtroom scenario is only one way to think about justice. Outside a courtroom, judgment might not lead to justice. When I judge someone, I don’t make things right. I don’t make a situation right, and I definitely do not make a person right, not by judging them. For example, I might see someone in a bar having a beer, and make a judgment call that he’s a drunk. I’ve just told him who he is. But what if he’s not a drunk? What if the guy is just having one beer? Judgment calls can get it wrong. I might make a judgment call based on how someone is dressed. I’ll say, “Based on the way you dress, this is who you are.” But I could be wrong. That may not be who they are. So I think we have to be careful about judgment calls. We may not know the facts, and we may not be qualified to make the call.

Micah Six Eight

In fact, the Bible tells us not to judge. But that’s where it gets confusing, because the Bible also tells us to do justice. If we’re not supposed to judge, then how are we supposed to do justice?

There’s another way to think about justice, one that works independently of judgment. Justice is when something is made right. Justice is looking at something that is wrong, and saying, “That’s wrong. I need to make it right.” That’s representing Jesus.

The Bible says that justice and righteousness surround the throne of God. Righteousness is living right. God lives right. God is full of truth. God is full of righteousness.

And He’s also full of justice. He’s full of righteousness, so when He sees something wrong, He wants to go and make it right. He wants to do justice.

I see us doing justice when we fight human trafficking. Human trafficking is wrong. It’s wrong by moral standards. We stand up to human trafficking as believers and we promise to stand in the gap. We’re supposed to be like Christ, so when we see something as unjust as human trafficking, then we need to make it right.

Jesus did justice on the cross. He made things right. That’s what I’ll talk about next time. See you Monday.

Team Not For Sale

I have a huge heart for people suffering in slavery all over the world, and am so blessed to be a part of the fight to end human trafficking.  Along with fellow baseball players all over the majors, I work with the Not For Sale Campaign to end slavery once and for all.

This Saturday June 7, the San Francisco Giants are holding a Not For Sale Night at AT&T Park.  It’s the fifth year in a row that they’ve done this!  Thank you, Giants!  Me and my buddies Matt Cain and Brandon Belt will donate our salaries to the Not For Sale Campaign as we host the New York Mets.  Come and watch us play, or if you’re in the Bay Area, check out the Not For Sale Campaign’s website and explore the creative and entrepreneurial methods they use to end slavery in our lifetime.  See what you can do!  Working to end slavery is hugely rewarding and connects you with some awesome people.

photo credit: Not For Sale

photo credit: Not For Sale

Here’s a link to a short video that will help you understand why my wife Larisa and I are so dedicated to this work.  I hope you’ve seen the new baseball movie “Million Dollar Arm” too!

Affeldts Treat Group to a Private Screening of Million Dollar Arm

See you Thursday.

God Will See It In Your Heart

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “You think your righteousness will be seen in your actions, but God will see it in your heart.” Murderous and adulterous thoughts are just as bad as the acts themselves. You used to be able to say, “I’m not going to murder that person because murder is not right, but I sure would love to do it!” You used to think that no matter what you thought about the matter, if you refrained from murder then you were righteous. But now you know that if you think about it, you’re as unrighteous as if you did it. It’s the same dance with adultery. Jesus said if you look at a woman with lust, you’ve committed a sin. Your thoughts and your actions make you unrighteous.

You have no shot at being righteous on your own!

heart of manRighteousness means living right, but your flesh doesn’t do that. It’s a battle. It’s why Paul asked, “Why do I do the things I don’t want to do, and the things I should do, I don’t do?” Right? That’s why the people of the Bible had to sacrifice so many animals. In order to cover certain sins, they would sacrifice animals at the same time every year. But the righteousness didn’t last. The flesh is weak! So they would mess up again, and then sacrifice again. It got to the point where sacrifices were just a routine. You’d sacrifice an animal, then go and live however you wanted to live, and then just sacrifice another animal. It was done without a heart commitment.

If you told your spouse “I love you” simply because you were supposed to, that wouldn’t mean that you actually love her or him. You would just be saying “I love you” to fulfill an obligation. That’s what was happening with the law and sacrifice. Even the Pharisees were keeping the law without the commitment of the heart! “I don’t murder,” they said. “I don’t commit adultery.” And so Jesus told them, “Yes, but you think about it. You’re still unrighteous.”

If you think obeying the law is going to make you righteous, think again. God looks past your flesh and right into your heart. God knows the flesh is flawed. Jesus never died for the flesh. Nowhere in Scripture does it say that Jesus died to save the flesh of man. Flesh is going to be flesh. It’s bad. It just is! That’s never going to change. So, no matter how good you appear to be, you’re not. You’re going to mess up. You’re not perfect! No one is, except Jesus.

Hearing this you might think well, I have no hope. But you have a ton of hope. You have hope because Jesus also said, “When I am 33 years of age, I’m going to die on this cross. I’m going to tear down the Temple and I’m going to rebuild it in three days. And then, it’s finished. Then, he who believes in me and who I am will be righteous and holy. No performance will be needed. You’ll be righteous and holy, just as you are.”

His sacrifice freed us!

See you Thursday.

Let’s Work Together

Anyone can change the world. Anyone can have a huge impact, just by joining forces with a lot of other people. If we work together, we can do anything.

A lot of people doing a little bit will do far more damage to this world’s injustices than one or two big corporations doing it all. A lot of people working together will produce a lot of energy. That’s more sustainable over the long run than trusting the work to a couple of large donors.

You know what else it is? It’s much more fulfilling! When you expect big corporations to shoulder the burdens of building the Kingdom, you quit. You say, “You know what? They have a lot of money, so I’ll just let them do it. And I’ll go on with my life.”

But when you do that, you don’t learn to understand why you’re here! When you leave it up to someone else, then you don’t learn to understand the purpose of the human race. You don’t learn to understand humanitarianism. You don’t learn to understand why Jesus came down the set the captives free. You don’t get the grace of Jesus Christ.

working together for the gospelJesus didn’t go to the biggest city He could find, teach its inhabitants to follow Him, and then say, “Now you change the world.” No. He left it to a small group of people. He left it up to them to go get more people. And then it was up to those people to go get more people, and then get more people. It was up to them to grow the church of Jesus Christ. That’s what Jesus did.

He didn’t want us to leave the Kingdom work to someone else. He wanted us to do it. If He didn’t want us to do it, then He probably would have just opened up the heavens so everybody could see God. He would have said, “Either follow Me or don’t, but now you know I’m real. You can see Me. I suggest you follow Me. Now that you see Me, you’re going to love Me now. You’re all going to do it.”

But that wouldn’t make any sense! If He did that, then what was the game? What was the journey for? What was the creation for? What was the reason for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? What was the point of that?

The point is, you have to choose to love Him. He’s no dictator. Think about it: Jesus left the Gospel with twelve young men, and he said, figure it out! He left the Gospel with a prostitute and said, figure it out! He said, “Hey! I want twelve young men, a prostitute, and a couple of businessmen. You go put the Gospel into the world. You create the church of the Book of Acts.” That’s what He did! And the church grew!

That’s what He wants from us. He wants us to join together and build His Kingdom. Just a whole lot of people, doing a little bit each, and working together. You’d be amazed how much you can do!

See you Monday.

Showing People Who Jesus Was

To His followers, Jesus said, “I’m not only here to die for you. I want to show you how to live. And once I show you how to live, I’m going to redeem you and give you a second chance.”

To us, Jesus says, “Now that I have shown you how to live, you can be like me. And because I have died for you, you’re redeemed. Because of my blood, you can come into heaven. I did that for you because right now, without my redeeming blood, you don’t have a shot. You can’t live the right way. You have too much sin in the world.”

Second chances are so big for us. Continue reading

The Least of These

Throughout my baseball career, God has continually increased my role in Christian social justice projects. Due to my participation in hunger and abolition initiatives, and after I saw the joy expressed by Ugandan children over clean, clear water, I read about the judgment of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25 with fresh eyes. And as I told you last time, this opened me anew to the simple truth of the Gospel. When you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior, and you make that dedication to love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, then the Spirit of God becomes alive in you.

That’s when the aroma of Christ will flow out of you. Continue reading

Argue with Me!

As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

Sometimes I miss just hanging out and talking with people that want to challenge me. I like a good, tough discussion about different ways of thinking. I like having my moral code challenged, or being asked to explain a piece of reasoning or why I hold a certain opinion. Even in baseball, where guys are really competitive, I’m seeing the level of discussion drop off. Now a guy will just as soon say, “Well, that’s cool,” and that’s it. That’s the end of the conversation.

“That’s cool”? That’s the state of dialogue? What about saying, “I hear you, but what about this perspective?” What happened to getting into strange, fun discussions about different viewpoints? Most people don’t seem to want to deal with that. They just want to say, “That’s cool. I don’t agree, but that’s cool.”

Well if you disagree, then obviously it’s not cool. So why do you say it is? I think there’s an idea growing out there that truth is relative. People have decided, “Well, you know, you can believe that. That’s your own belief. You believe your way, and I’ll believe my way.” There’s just no “iron sharpening iron” going on.

If you think I’m wrong, I have no problem with you challenging me. I wish you would! Don’t say, “That’s cool. To each their own.” No, no. If we did that with everybody, we’d have chaos. And anyway we don’t do that. When some guy kills some other guy on the street, we don’t say, “I probably wouldn’t have done that, but, whatever, it’s cool.” It’s not cool! When that happens, we’re challenging it. We’re going to put that guy before a court. We’re going to tell him why we think he’s wrong. And we’re going to have to put him somewhere where he can’t do it again!

That’s an extreme example, but in normal everyday discourse, most people don’t want to be argumentative. And that’s part of why justice is not always being served in this world. There are literally people out there that see injustice and say, “Hey, not my problem. Whatever. I mean, you gotta do what you gotta do.” Well, no, you don’t!

But we’re afraid of conflict. The people that stand up to injustice, right now, should be considered heroes. The staff of Not For Sale are heroic in their endeavors. So is the International Justice Mission. There are a lot of different agencies and organizations that are trying to stop slavery. They may or may not be afraid, but they stand up.

The problem is, they comprise a small group compared to the numbers of people that are now finding out about human trafficking and still go to bed at night saying, “That’s cool, good for them for fighting,” and then move on. It’s going to take a whole society to finish slavery once and for all. Back in the day when there was a social movement, for abolition or civil rights or women’s right to vote, that movement succeeded when a whole society revolted. We didn’t get better as a country because people said, “Well, to each their own, that’s cool, you do your thing, good luck with that.” We got better because we said no to injustice.

We’re losing that. Most people now are afraid of controversy, and I think that’s unhealthy. In the spiritual world and in the common sense world, I think that you have to be okay with conflict. There has to be an iron-sharpening-iron effect.

See you Saturday.