O Holy Night!
Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Social Justice or Practical Mercy, Its at the very heart of God. It was embedded throughout Jesus’ own story:
- Jesus was Homeless as He didn’t start His life in a home. And toward the end of His life He said, Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.
- As a Refugee He had to flee with His family to Egypt.
- There was Social Injustice shown to all the toddler boys that died.
- He was an Immigrant (a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country) [i.e. Coming from His home country of Heaven, to Earth]
- Thus making Him an alien, an outsider, & living in exile for a time.
Remember this Christmas season “His law is still love & His awesome good news is still Peace!”
March 13th is Freedom Sunday. What’s that? I’m glad you asked. Well…
* Because there are more people enslaved today than at any other point in human history.
* Human Trafficking is the world’s 3rd largest criminal enterprise (after drugs & weapons). About a $32 billion dollar business.
* An estimated 600-800,000 children, women & men are trafficked across international borders annually.
We feel we need to do something to Stop it!
The biblical story is all about freedom. The story of the “Exodus” was about freeing the Israelites from Egypt. Jump into the NT & you find Jesus teaching about it in the Temple (i.e.) “setting the captives free!” Become a modern day abolitionist. Every individual has a skill to contribute. Dare ask…what will I do?
* Great links:
Last year in Thailand I passed a street where my friend Stu said, “down that street is a 6 story brothel that runs 24 hours a day, every room filled with young women, children, & boys.” I can’t get that picture out of my head. It’s so wrong.
A few months ago myself & 2 of my pastors/friends started a Children At Risk meeting at our church. Our desire is 3-fold…Awareness, Advocacy, & Action. Awareness (What happening in our backyard & in our world?); Advocacy (a person who pleads on someone else’s behalf); Action (Let’s do something about it together). My friend Arielle has this Human Trafficking video on her web site, check it out. It’s a little graphic, but let it grab your heart…then let it touch your injustice nerve & do something about it!
Just got back from a 2 day seminar called Global Forum on Human Trafficking 2010. Wow! Here’s a couple notes to ponder:
Human Trafficking has 2 ugly faces: forced labor & sexual servitude.
There’s a possible 27 million people enslaved in our world today. 80% are women & children. 100,000 in U.S.
70% of the world’s supply of cocoa beans come from West Africa where there is an estimated 15,000 child slaves who harvest them.
Such a disparity between the children who are enslaved to pick the cocoa pods & those of us who have the luxury to purchase & eat them.
Last week I went on a ride along with one of our cities finest. It was a K-9 unit, with officer Moll & his loving dog Renzo (loving? well he loves to bite). Moll asked me, “so are you going to take a bite tonight chaplain?” I said sure, & we were on our way. Well, we got talking, working, & busy with different stops, & well, we both forgot about the bite. Maybe next time.
Would you have put on the bite sleeve & takin a bite?
Is there anything lately where you we’re challenged to take a risk, but choose instead to play it safe?
I’m reading a book right now called “Just Courage” by Gary Haugen (check out On My Desk) & in one of its chapters it has a subtitle called “Death in a Cul-de-sac” it said, “In Suburban housing tracts Cul-de-sac’s were designed to address homeowner anxieties about dangers of automobile traffic that might be threatening to their children. Ironically several decades later, studies reveal that cul-de-sacs are the most dangerous residential configurations for children. Studies showed children aren’t injured by forward-moving traffic nearly as much as by cars backing up.”
Many Western Christians find themselves trapped in a dead-end street. We’ve sought safety from a dangerous dirty world & made ourselves cautious cul-de-sacs, all around our lives. But decades later the church is full of spiritual atrophy, mediocrity, & boredom that is lethal to the soul. I grew up on Trumball Street in Whittier, Ca. The street just north of us had a cul-de-sac,…but it also had a pathway leading out of it for bikes & pedestrians.
The Bible laid out a path out of our cul-de-sac lives thousands of years ago. It’s a route to rescue for us, & a path to life for millions who are suffering in our world.
Is.1:16b,17 says, “Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.”
The sin of injustice, as we see it in the bible, is defined as “the abuse of power by taking from others the good things that God intended for them, namely, their life, liberty, dignity, or the fruit of their love or their labors.” It’s when a stronger person abuses his/her power by taking from a weaker person what God alone has given the weaker person God judges this as sin. When a more powerful person abuses their power by stealing those good things, they commit the sin of injustice.
Biblical stories of injustice:
Cain stole Abel’s life through murder.
The Egyptians stole the Hebrew’s liberty, dignity & well-being through forced slavery.
King David stole Uriah’s wife & then Uriah’s life.
Amnon stole Tamar’s dignity, well-being & personal wholeness by raping her.
King Herod stole the lives of all the boys of Bethlehem 2 years & younger.
The religious leaders in Jerusalem stole the lives of Stephen & other believers through the abuse of their civil-religious power.
In each of these stories, one that is weaker is being abused by one stronger, & are being deprived of the good gifts that God has given. This is why the bible says, “those who oppresses the poor insult their Maker.” Prov.14:31
KEY: Allow me to steal a few more of Gary’s thoughts. In each of these stories the weaker person isn’t suffering because of random unfairness, an uncontrollable act of nature, or a patch of bad luck. Rather, the weaker person is suffering because of the very intentional abuse & oppression of a stronger person. This is injustice!
The biblical response to injustice is to “seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” Is.1:17
The poorest people in our world suffer from hunger, homelessness, illiteracy & sickness. Response: we bring food, shelter, education, & medicine. They suffer from bad luck, bad storm, bad harvest, bad bacteria, bad famine etc. And these are all massive needs worthy of our urgent attention!
But here is what is different! When the root of the problem is cause by Aggressive Violence! Bullies!
Violence is different, it’s intentional, it’s scary, it causes deep scars (of betrayal, humiliation, shame). Violence fights back! And for every dollar the Christian community spends on addressing injustice, it spends 100 dollars on traditional programs of poverty alleviation, compassion ministry, evangelism & discipleship. (I’m not saying we’re spending too much on the later, just not enough on the former)
Given the magnitude of the need & urgency of the biblical mandate to “seek justice & rescue the oppressed” there is no justification for the gaping disparity.
Prov.31:8,9 Open your mouth for the speechless, In the cause of all who are appointed to die. Open your mouth, judge righteously, And plead the cause of the poor and needy.
Are you ready to take a bite?