Christian Social Justice

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
love and faithfulness go before you.
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,
who walk in the light of your presence, LORD. (Psalm 89:14-15)

What is Christian social justice? Put simply, justice is making things right. When the psalm says that justice and righteousness are the foundation of God’s throne, it means that God brings justice by making things right. Are you hungry? Let me make it right by feeding you. Are you thirsty? Let me make it right by building you a well and bringing safe water to your family and community. Are you an orphan, with no home and no mom and dad? Let me help you to an orphanage. Are you a slave, working for no pay, not allowed to leave? Let me free you. Let me make things right for you, because I know that when I do it for you, I do it for Jesus.

mlk-justice-and-righteousness-word-art

It can be pretty tough to respond to injustice without anger. While there are times when it’s appropriate, anger is not always the response of wisdom. When you respond to the hunger, thirst, homelessness, loneliness, and enslavement of fellow human beings, especially children, you need to use wisdom. Through wisdom, you can find lasting, sustainable solutions to the problems facing people in poverty-stricken areas. When you act with anger, you might alienate people. When you use wisdom, you can get them to listen to you.

One misconception people have is that Jesus went around making things right in anger, but I can only think of a couple of times when Jesus got angry. He got angry with the Pharisees, calling them “whitewashed tombs” (Matthew 23:27) and a “brood of vipers” (Matthew 23:33). He only did that because the Pharisees were the religious teachers of Jesus’ time, and teachers are held to a stricter standard (James 3:1). Jesus told the Pharisees, “You represent my Father, and yet you act like this, judging people and casting them out of society. That’s not okay. Do not claim to be guardians of the truth, and then turn around and judge people. When you do that, you misrepresent my Father.”

Of course, we don’t know that Jesus spoke to the Pharisees with rage in His voice. That’s not a conclusion I would leap to. I’m pretty sure that Jesus was fairly self-controlled. Think of the other time He got angry, when He drove the money changers out of the Temple (Matthew 21:12-13). He flipped the tables and drove them out, but when He did it, people listened to Him. That’s because they already knew who He was, and they trusted Him. They’d seen Him do miracles, signs, and wonders. They’d seen Him love on people. You see? Before He flipped a single table, Jesus had already earned the people’s trust. So when He got upset, people didn’t write Him off. They wanted to know why He was angry.

We can learn a lot from Jesus. If we talk to people about social justice with anger, then they won’t listen to us. Why would they? To make things right, we need to use wisdom, just like He did. Jesus served in love! There’s no other way to go.

To reflect the justice and righteousness of our Father, we need to ask for wisdom. We need to ask for calm. We need to ask to be loving and kind, peaceful and self-controlled, and full of mercy and grace. That’s how Jesus did it, and when we walk in the light of His presence, then those around us will feel nothing but love, and grace, and mercy. That is Christian social justice. That is making things right.

See you Monday.

Help Them Dream

I am so blessed to be able to dream really big dreams.

Like playing in the World Series! It’s the most awesome opportunity. We are really excited for tomorrow night’s game!

But did you know that there are children in the world today who never get a chance to dream? I thought slavery was a thing of the past, until I read about a human trafficking case in the newspaper. At first I couldn’t believe that slavery could still be happening in today’s world. But it is, and it’s on a pretty large scale. So I said, “What can I do? Let’s figure out what we have to do, and get it done!” That’s how I became a part of Team Not For Sale.

I am free to pursue my dreams, but these kids have been forced into situations of fear. That’s why we’re trying to help them. We help set them free. Then we help them dream again.

You can help them too! It’s easy to do, and you’ll find a stunning and unexpected joy when you do. Check out my youth organization for more information. We respond to opportunities to help end poverty and the trafficking that goes with it. We’re a Generation Alive!

Learn more about NomiS and hear more of his poetry and music here: NomiS | Authentic Hip-Hop

Slavery Still Exists

Slavery still exists, and this extraordinary piece in The Atlantic from 2012 documents it with powerful and poignant photographs.

Lisa Kristine: Slavery Still Exists

photo credit: Lisa Kristine  http://www.lisakristine.com/

photo credit: Lisa Kristine http://www.lisakristine.com/

Yes, slavery still exists, and we can do something about it. We can actually help free people, and then help support them as they rebuild their lives in freedom and safety. Why not join me and other professional athletes in Team Not For Sale? Make an accomplishment-based pledge. Do you and your friends play football on Sunday afternoons? Then you can pledge $1 to Not For Sale for every tackle you make this season. That money will go to help empower survivors of human trafficking. You can get everyone on your team to make a similar pledge. That way you can raise a lot, by everyone giving a little bit. That’s teamwork!

You will find the most profound fulfillment if you do.

The National League Championship Series starts Saturday, and I’m focused! See you Monday.

Fighting for the Kingdom

Jesus knows our lives. Even when He walked among us, Jesus could see into 2014. 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. And we need a lot of His wisdom!

We need wisdom even when we do something really obvious for His Kingdom, like fighting human trafficking. There are tons of groups out there fighting human trafficking. Tons of them! But Dave Batstone of Not For Sale has an approach that really speaks to me. Dave uses a lot of wisdom. Not only is he fighting human trafficking, but he’s using entrepreneurship to do it. He’s creating opportunities in work and in life for former victims, and saving potential victims from falling into trafficking networks.

People involved in fighting trafficking face a big question. Once you rescue slaves from traffickers, what are your next steps? Once you rescue children, what are you going to do? Do you have homes for them? What about the adults? Do you have jobs for them? Can you help them support themselves and their families? Can you help them rehabilitate, laugh again, thrive?

Too often, people don’t have an answer for that. All they can say is, “I don’t know! I just know I’m supposed to rescue them.” Well, yes you are, but it doesn’t make sense to do that without a plan. You need a strategy! You need goals and tactics! You need to take care that you don’t add to the harm already done to them.

We should have already learned this lesson. Remember when we used to pick a poor country and go down as a church? We’d say, “Oh, we’ll build this poor village a church. We’ll build them this, that, and the other. We’ll build them some homes!” And we did. And then we just left. So what happened? We built homes, churches, schools, clinics, and community centers. We built buildings for them, buildings they needed, but they had no way to take care of them. They had no money and they had no supplies. So after about three or four years, the buildings crumbled. In the end, the people we went to serve didn’t have buildings anymore. They had rubble. All we did was trash their village!

We threw ourselves into “helping” when we didn’t have a goal or a purpose. We had no strategy. We didn’t understand why we were doing something to help. We had no wisdom. Our thoughts ran no deeper than, “Oh, this is charity.” So we did the wrong things. And that’s why there are a lot of people now saying that charity is hurting people.

The Book of Proverbs speaks all the time about Lady Wisdom. Lady Wisdom says, “Do not deny me. Because if you deny me, the road you go down will lead to death.” And so I’ve been asking God lately to give me wisdom. There are so many things going on in the world today that don’t look right to me, even though people are saying it’s okay. I need wisdom to know how to handle it. I need wisdom to speak into people’s lives. Wisdom will show us how to fight for the Kingdom of God.

See you Thursday.

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.