Let’s Do Something!

Last time I wrote about being a man after God’s own heart. I want my works to represent Him. I want to love on people, and bring them joy. I want to bring justice where there is hunger, enslavement, sickness, loneliness, and fear. I strive to do these things, and I repent when I mess up.

I also want to help everyone see that we can make a huge difference when our works represent Him. We can bring justice to the suffering by loving them as we love ourselves. We can smile on them with the smile of Jesus. We can let them feel the warmth and love that He shows us. We can do that.

But sometimes it’s hard to get people moving. I speak about human trafficking or various hunger scenarios, and people get so enthusiastic! They say, “Hey man, preach it, Brother!” And I say, “Yeah! So tell me, what are you going to do?” And they say, “Oh, you know, I’ll pray for them.”

Pray for them? They’re starving to death! What is there to pray about? This is scripture! Jesus says to love your neighbor as yourself. Love your neighbor. So I don’t want us to just pray about it. I want us to help do it.

I know I’m being impatient. It’s just that I know how we go to church, preach and pray, and talk about how we need to help. But then we can go home and have a family, and we can go home and sit on our couches and watch TV, and we can go home and watch our kids play in the backyard.

I know people that can’t even meet in a church building without fear of being put into prison. I know people that can be walking home from a church gathering fearing that militiamen will come by and swipe them up — or shoot them. They’re so worried about getting trafficked. They’re so worried about guys like Joseph Kony kidnapping them and making them shoot people. They’re so worried about drinking water that is making them sick. And they’re wondering, “Am I going to have to eat dirt today, or is someone going to be awesome enough to make sure I have a bowl of rice?”

We can go home and enjoy our families and our lives, and they are the blessings of God. I don’t take them for granted. We are His beloved children. But people living in fear or coping with disease and food insecurity are God’s beloved children too. They are made in His image, and they have worries we can’t imagine. How are they supposed to use their giftings? How are they supposed to reflect God?

Understanding the suffering of God’s beloved children is the source of my greatest pain. It frustrates me that they suffer while we relax and talk about how blessed we are. It grieves me.

I know that if I walk into a church and talk with this kind of zeal, I might not get the response that I hope to get. They might try to push me to the edge of the cliff. Maybe they’ll even try to make me walk off of it! (Luke 24:28-30)

So how do I get people moving?

A Man After God’s Own Heart

Take a good look at who Jesus was. He never condemned anybody. He loved everybody. And He brought joy to the people He was with.

That’s what I’m trying to do. I want to be a different kind of baseball player. Of course I want to be a guy that makes lots of money, but not to have seven houses and six yachts and eighteen cars. I earn as much as I can for a different reason. I want to make money because it means I can help people that need to be helped. It means I can love people and bring them joy, just the way that Jesus did.

Of course, Jesus is God, so He’s perfect. I don’t expect myself to be perfect. Trust me, I know I’m not perfect. I mess up. I strive to live a life that is Christ-like, but I feel a lot like Paul did in his letter to the Romans. He said, “Why do I always do the things I don’t want to do, and the things I want to do, I don’t do? Because there’s a battle living inside of me and it’s called sin.” (see Romans 7:15-25)

That’s me! I’m always doing things I don’t want to do, and not doing the things I want to do. But I also live by Paul’s words in Romans 8: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives you life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (8:1-2)

When I mess up, I feel repentant like David. I want to tear my clothes! Instead I say, “I’m sorry. I’m trying to live my life the way that You’ve asked me to, and I messed up. Help me and guide me. Help me to hear You and not be in my own selfish thoughts.” And because there is no condemnation, He helps me. Jesus is the savior of my life!

Because of his repentant heart, David gets called “a man after God’s own heart.” (1 Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22) That’s what I strive to be: a man after God’s own heart. And I try to encourage others to be that way. As an athlete and believer, I’m trying to be a man after God’s own heart. In my circle, when people look to me, that’s what I want them to see. I don’t want them to see someone who’s working for their salvation. No, no. I want them to see someone who says, “You know what? Because I am saved, my works will represent Him.”

That’s what I’m about, and I that’s what I’m trying to get young people to be about. What you do in life will represent Christ because of who you are. Whatever your giftings are, whatever your talents are, you represent Him. Be a believer after God’s own heart.

Identity in Christ

But when the time arrived that was set by God the Father, God sent his Son, born among us of a woman, born under the conditions of the law so that he might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law. Thus we have been set free to experience our rightful heritage. You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, “Papa! Father!” Doesn’t that privilege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child? And if you are a child, you’re also an heir, with complete access to the inheritance. Galatians 4:4-7

When I say that my identity is in Christ, what do I mean? It means I am a child of God. As Paul said in his letter to the Galatians, because of the blood of Jesus I have been adopted by God. I am God’s child, and His heir. That makes me a co-heir with Christ. This is who I am. It’s my identity.

My actions and thoughts flow from this identity. I do what I do because of who I am. In the same way, Jesus did what He did because of who He was. He performed signs and wonders because that’s who He was. Jesus said, “Hey, I do these things because I saw my Father do them.” Jesus reflected God in everything He did.

Child of GodI see how Jesus reflected God and I try in the same way to reflect Jesus. I’m passionate about social justice because Jesus was passionate about it. Jesus walked the streets, taking care of people who were poor, sick, and outcast. I try to follow His example. I try to take care of people in my world who are poor and suffering.

Unlike Jesus, I mess up! And I have to say I’m sorry, seek forgiveness, and then keep trying. But I am sure of God’s love. He loves me just as I love my own sons. It’s a love that doesn’t stop, not for any reason. I am a child of God.

I don’t help people who are poor in order to build my resume. I don’t need to submit an application to the Kingdom. I don’t feed the hungry or rescue slaves so that God will say, “Let me save this guy Jeremy. Look what he did.” I don’t do these things in order to ensure my salvation. My salvation is ensured. That is my identity.

I seek justice because I’m living out of my heart. I’m living out of who I am. I’m trying to bring food, clean water, shelter, and freedom to people who will die without it. And I do it because I am filled with His love. That’s the awesome thing about being co-heir to the Kingdom. You know?

What’s in me comes out of me. And what’s in me is my Father. So my actions reflect God. His Holy Spirit is in me, and the Spirit is telling me, “This is what your Father does. This is how He loves. This is a perfect time to love, Jeremy. So go love.”

That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to go love on someone in need! How about you?

See you Thursday.

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.