Was Jesus Weak?

Last time, I said anger is weak. But in the Temple, Jesus got angry. He flipped tables and drove out the money changers. Was Jesus weak?

What we saw in the Temple was not a weak man’s anger. A weak man defends the faith by getting angry in the face of a challenge, which is not what happened in the Temple. What we saw was Jesus’ zealous anger for His God. Those guys were selling things, in the Temple! Jesus made it clear: a temple is not a place to make money.

This story has always interested me. Obviously this wasn’t the first time that people were selling things in the Temple. I don’t believe for a minute that Jesus didn’t know about it. I think He’d seen it happening for 33 years, basically His whole life. So why did He react that day, and not before?

I think it’s because the Holy Spirit had come upon Him. He finally had authority to drive out the merchants and money changers. I believe that is why He walked into the Temple that day and said, “Enough! This is not a place for this. This is a house of prayer, not a house of sales. I’m not going to let you make money off these people.” I think that was a zealous thing. That was passion. Jesus wanted people to know how great the Temple was, and how special it was. So he cleared it. It was righteous anger. Justice anger.

Jesus clears the templeThe anger Jesus showed that day is the same anger I have when I see injustice take place. When it comes to human trafficking, I can get very angry, and it’s my passion that I’m expressing. Trafficking isn’t right, and I want so much to make it right. It’s my passion to make it right.

There are times when you need what they call “righteous anger.” If I had a chance to storm into a nail salon and free the women being held captive there, I’d do it. That wouldn’t be a time for calm debate. I wouldn’t stop to share the Gospel with the traffickers. I would only say, “What you’re doing to human beings, to all of us, is bad. It’s not okay.” And I would not go into that salon in a way that most people would call “love.” My actions would show love for the women, obviously, but not for the people holding them captive. I wouldn’t be nice. Love isn’t always “nice.”

Jesus made things right in the Temple, and it wasn’t necessarily “nice.” I think that’s what He’s showing us. There is a time and a place for anger. When it comes to dealing with the human heart, you have to do it in love. But when it comes to dealing with a crime against humanity, anger is going to come out. It’s not anger in the sense of hate. It’s the anger that Jesus had when He cleared the Temple.

Think about it. When Jesus was getting whipped and beaten and mocked, He could have reacted in anger. No one would blame Him. He could have pulled Himself off the cross, and no one would blame Him for that either, even if He came down blazing with righteous anger. But that isn’t what He did. He let them crucify Him, and He just looked up to heaven and said, “Father forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.” Why did Jesus stay calm? He didn’t get angry because His crucifixion was not about a crime against humanity. It was an issue of the heart, and He was on that cross for a reason. He was there to bring justice.

Sometimes Christians don’t know how distinguish the times that call for righteous anger from the times that call us to create justice through love. We need the Holy Spirit to step in and show us, so we have to ask the Holy Spirit what we’re supposed to do.

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.

How to Fight for the Kingdom of God

Jesus knows our lives. Even when He walked among us, Jesus could see into 2013. He could see how bad the world would become. He could see how comfortable with sin our world would be. Sin is becoming just another part of life, and the prevailing attitude seems to be, “Hey, to each his own.” Jesus looks at this, and He says, “Man! The world needs a lot of forgiveness!

Jesus knows that believers walking the earth today need a lot of hope and encouragement. Continue reading

Let’s Set the Captives Free!

Those of us who are not enslaved are so happy to hear about Jesus, who came to set the captives free.  Just imagine how much sweeter His message will sound to the millions who are literally, physically enslaved the world over!

Churches are increasingly participating in the fight against human trafficking, and they should be. Jesus came to set the captives free, so that’s what the church should be doing. Jesus asked people what they needed and then met those needs. That’s what the church should be doing. Our love comes from Jesus, who died so the slaves could be free.

Ask Me and I’ll Help You

Continuing this week with my reflections on prayer:

Prayer is a really important part of our work to end human trafficking.  We have access to God, and God knows the best way to succeed in ending slavery forever.  We can ask Him, and He’ll help us.  So we should ask.  Success will come so much sooner!

Christ is Freedom

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The anti-slavery organization Men for Freedom invited me to be their guest blogger for July! Here’s a preview:

So do I think Jesus would be the frontrunner in the fight against human trafficking and the rescuing of slaves? I am one hundred percent certain of it. It’s easy to be certain, because I know He’s come to set us free. The Bible says, “The truth shall set you free.” (John 8) Freedom is in Christ Jesus. If freedom is in Christ, then freedom is what makes Him. He is freedom.

Read the rest here.  I’ll see you Monday.

Hooked on Abolition

Last time, I told you about how God brought me to San Francisco. I believe He brought me to San Francisco for a reason. Almost as soon as I arrived, I learned to fight human trafficking.

In a previous post, I told you how I got into food initiatives, and how satisfying it is to give the hungry something to eat. It was so fulfilling that I started researching poverty and hunger closely. And then everywhere I looked, I saw a dreadful pattern. Continue reading

The Funny Thing About San Francisco

Here’s the funny thing about San Francisco. For the first seven years of my professional career, I said, “No chance I’m ever signing with San Francisco. I will not go there.” People would ask me, “Why not?” And I would tell them, “Because I don’t agree morally with that city, and I don’t agree politically with that city.”

Anytime my team went to San Francisco to play, either the A’s or the Giants depending on the league I was in, we’d always stay in San Francisco. I would stay in my hotel room the entire time. I would only come out to go to the ballpark. When it was time to get on a train, I wouldn’t even leave the hotel and wait on the sidewalk. Instead, I’d stay inside and look out the doors. As soon as the BART came, I’d run to it, get on, and go to the field. I didn’t want anything to do with that city. Continue reading

Your Neighbor is Hungry!

When I first started learning about the love-your-neighbor-as-yourself mentality, my spirit grabbed it. I mean, I was really excited. I said, “This is it!”

But then when God started teaching me about poverty, I really started digging. I’ve been researching poverty ever since. Poverty is a whole world of interconnected causes and consequences. The more I learned, the more I understood poverty’s complications, and the more I understood how people get trapped in it. And I could feel myself shifting.

I used to look at a homeless guy and say, “Man, you know what, how about you just go get a job. Shave, and go get a job at McDonald’s. It’s not that hard.” That’s how I used to look at it. I had no compassion. 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.