Preaching Justice by Meeting a Need

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne;
Mercy and truth go before Your face. (Psalm 89:14)

The psalm says that righteousness and justice are the foundation of the throne of God. The foundation! But we don’t preach justice.

We preach righteousness, alright. We’re all over that. Not a day goes by that you don’t hear about righteousness. But we don’t preach justice.

We do small missions. Short term missions. And that’s justice? A church group goes to some poor area and builds a building that the local community can’t afford to maintain. What happens? It becomes a pile of junk. In no time.

They build a house for someone who cannot sustain it, and then they say, “We did a good deed.” They built what they wanted to build. Then they sat back and said, “Look what we did.” They called it their short term mission, because they did it in Jesus’s name. They actually said Jesus’s name. But that’s not Jesus! You know why? Because they didn’t ask the community, “What do you need?”

Jesus asked people, “What do you need?” And then He fulfilled their needs. He asked the man at the Pool of Bethesda, “Do you want to be healed? Is that your need”? Jesus knew it was! Obviously it was. But notice that Jesus asked.

And the sick man said yes. He said, ”Yes, I need to be healed. I’ve been like this for 38 years, but I can’t get close to the water.” So Jesus said, ”Okay, well just pick up your mat and walk.” Immediately the man was healed.

This is what Jesus did! He met people’s needs. The disciples went to Him and said, “These people are hungry, Jesus!” And Jesus said, “Oh, they’re hungry?” “Yes,” the disciples said. “Okay,” said Jesus. “Give me those loaves and fish.” Boom! He fed every one of them. Food left over. He met their needs.

After He met their needs, He spoke to them. After He met their needs. Jesus knew what people needed to hear. He knew! He could have just said it. But He didn’t start with that. He met their needs first, and then He spoke to them.

There are millions of people in this world who need to be rescued from human trafficking. They need to find Jesus! So go and meet their needs. Rescue them. Then you can tell them all about Jesus.

What happens when you don’t ask what people need? What if you go on the street and pass out a pamphlet talking about Jesus Christ? What if you hand one to a sex slave and their pimp’s watching? That slave does not care about your pamphlet. They are trying to turn a trick and get some money, so they don’t get beat up that night. What are they going to say to a pamphlet? “Thank you”? No! Because a pamphlet is not going to keep them from getting whipped.

What’s worse, that girl or boy is going to say to you, “I need to meet your need. I have to get some money.”

You have to start with their need. Rescue them. Tell them, “No, I want to meet your need, child. I want to get you out of this. I am going to rescue you from this. After that, I’ll tell you why I rescued you. I did it because I love you. My love comes from a man named Jesus Christ. He loved you so much that He died, so that you could be free.

That’s grace. That’s Jesus. That’s the vision.

More on this next time. See you Thursday.

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

Consciousness Raising Part 2

A big part of recruiting players and their wives to the Free2Play team involved giving them some awareness about the situation. When Dave Batstone and I visited Bible studies for players during spring training, I shared some of my ideas about why slavery is a Jesus situation. I explained that Jesus would not support human trafficking. And since Jesus wouldn’t support it, neither should we.

Then I told them about slave labor. They were really amazed. “Wow,” they said, “slavery is in the things we buy!” And I said “Yeah, it’s in the things you buy.” But I also explained how slave labor is a really tough thing to fight, because it’s so hard to detect. For example, every one of us has a cell phone. Continue reading

Love Saves People

I have been to megachurches that have campuses so large that they have gyms for members.  But they also have huge humanitarian programs.

Pastor Matthew Barnett runs the Los Angeles Dream Center.  It has five hundred thousand square feet right by Dodger Stadium.  These Christians feed the homeless and take care of the poor.  They even paint people’s houses for free, just because they want to serve them.  They distribute food and female products in poor communities that don’t have the money to buy these things.  Their ministry creates community, and they pour a lot of money and effort into the injustices they encounter in this country and in the world.

His father, Pastor Tommy Barnett, runs the Phoenix Dream Center out of the Phoenix First Assembly of God, same deal.

Love has become “feminized,” and by that I mean that when you talk about love, a lot of people will say you’re soft.  But love is what is going to save people.  Loving them.

Think of a person who has a mental illness.  Continue reading

Growing Awareness

I think a lot of different things happened to raise my awareness of the problems of poverty and injustice.  For one thing, I started hanging out with Mike King.  He’s trying to do a new kind of youth ministry, so I hang out with him because I like to see how he’s training young people.  One of the things he’s trying to do is help kids understand what’s going on in the world.  He introduced me to the Feed the Hunger program, and when I read about human trafficking in the newspaper I asked him what he knew about the Not For Sale Campaign.

As I started learning about problems like hunger and slavery, I started reading more about them.  And when I did that, the suffering of these people grabbed my heart.

Also, I have a little boy now, and I’m feeling this strong fathering instinct.  I’ll do whatever it takes to be sure he’s fed.  I feel this powerful sense of compassion, and I want to make sure my family is safe.  I really feel for the people that are trying to do whatever it takes and they still can’t feed their children.  That would be devastating to me.  Like I said, it grips my heart.

I’ve been over to a teenage homeless shelter, and I learned a lot of things. Continue reading