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.

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.