Why Should Christians Fight Human Trafficking?

I mentioned last time that in my early experience, suburban churches were slow to respond to social justice issues like human trafficking. But I have seen that change. Churches are increasingly getting involved.

The Church is called to make Jesus visible in the world, and we do this by doing what He did. We are the sons and daughters of the King, so we do battle for the Kingdom. We bring righteousness and justice. We bring mercy and truth!

I think this is why churches are increasingly starting up trafficking missions, along with hunger initiatives, water initiatives, mental health initiatives, homelessness initiatives, help for orphans, and help for refugees.

Bay Area churches tend to be more aware of trafficking issues because the Bay Area really has a problem with it. Also, the Not For Sale Campaign has been very successful in getting the word out, and is able to use its influence to mobilize people. Bay Area churches and their youth groups have started taking the initiative, talking about trafficking and working on solutions.

Churches increasingly have human trafficking missions, and these missions are really, really good. I’ve been invited into a lot of different churches in California, and I have really enjoyed the time I’ve spent with them, seeing what they are doing. It’s inspiring!

I used to have to go around and ask churches to get involved, but now a lot California churches come to me and say, “Hey, we’re trying to start a justice mission in our church. We’d really like to hear your views on human trafficking, because we really want to encourage our congregation to fight harder.” Near the end of my baseball career, I had so many invitations to speak that I had to turn some down. Awareness is definitely spreading! And now that I’m retired, I can accept more invitations to speak. I get to continue being part of this awesome work that God is doing.

But we’re still at a stage where churches are trying to educate their congregations. Churches are still trying to help people understand how important it is to fight trafficking. Some churches are still trying to get their elders to see how important this is.

I’m happy to see churches making the effort to launch these missions and gain some momentum. I really am! But if you think about it, they shouldn’t have to try.

Churches shouldn’t have to convince their congregations, or their elders, that fighting trafficking is important. It’s important! It should be obvious that believers are going to be in on the fight. Period. Slavery is not Jesus. If you are part of a church, or you are a pastor, then you should be part of freeing the captives. No question, no debate. Freeing the captives is Jesus.

I’m telling you, when the Church unites to do Jesus, everything is going to click. When the Church unites to reflect Jesus into the world, then we will be able to see Him. And that is when He will return. Don’t you want that? I know I do!

If we continue to narrow our focus to our own programs, our own suburbs, our own communities, then we’ll never unite. All we’ll end up saying is, “Hey, this is my church. Stay away.”

The unification of the church does not mean giving up our denominational identities. It just means that we should all be on the same page on certain issues: issues of righteousness and justice. These are the foundation of the throne of God!

See you Thursday.

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 Foundation of His Throne

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

The Psalm says that at the foundation of God’s throne, we find righteousness and justice. They go hand in hand. A package deal! That means righteous people will do justice. But what is justice? Matthew 25 is justice. Caring for the hungry, thirsty, homeless, sick, lonely, and enslaved is justice, and these actions are done by those who are righteous and holy. They understand their identity in Christ. They see injustice and they say, “I so desperately want those who are suffering to understand love.” They know that where there’s injustice, there is no love.

So doing justice helps you understand love. Doing justice means you find out how amazing love feels. When you do something to help someone who suffers, you’ve expressed your deepest ability to say, “I love you.” You’ve found your deepest way to share your love. All that joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and self-control – all those fruits of the Spirit – suddenly come into play. That’s when you know you’re holy and righteous. You know who you are, and you start living out of that identity.

mlk-justice-and-righteousness-word-art

When you don’t live out of that identity, when you take on a flesh identity, that’s when you don’t have self-control. And when you don’t have self-control, you feel like everything’s out of control and you’re lost. Or you try to control others.

That happens when you don’t trust God. You trust in God, but you don’t trust God. And scary to say, a lot of people don’t trust God. A lot of Christians don’t trust God. Think about the cares of this world! There is so much pain and suffering! It’s easy to not trust God. It’s easy to want to take control. We say, “I’m going to take control here, because I know what I want to do to feel better and be safe.”

But justice and righteousness surround His throne. Our God is a righteous God, and He doesn’t just live righteously. He takes what’s wrong and makes it right. That’s justice. When it comes to understanding God and how He moves and sees, we need to look to that. It’s how Jesus moves. It’s how the Spirit moves. The Trinity is on the same page, and the wisdom that we receive flows from righteousness and justice. Not righteousness and judgment. Not condemnation for those that don’t live in righteousness. Just taking what’s wrong, and making it right.

At times, the church has gone astray. We’ve done it out of fear. Fearful, we want to control people, using guilt and shame to do it. Then we start to judge and condemn. Instead, let’s trust God with the people we’re trying to talk to. We’re here to love, and create justice through love. That’s how we’ll live out our righteousness.

See you Monday.