Share your blessings
Yet another week has rocked the United States, and trying to avoid the news has been to no avail. Shootings continue to rock the airwaves, people believe that not doing anything wrong is no longer a guarantee to live, and the punishments do not fit the crime (crime used loosely here as some cases there was absolutely no evidence of crime). Demographic-based treatment bleeds rampantly across American streets, voices drowned out…
We do not need to rehash everything here. You have heard, seen, read, and probably experienced enough. But how long must we wait before we stand up to injustice? It becomes easier to stand up to injustice when justice has been wrongly served to us. But must we wait for that experience to happen to us before we do something about it?
How should those of us not affected by these events (nor may ever be) respond? More importantly, how should a Christian respond?
Remember what your He did for you
Matthew 18:21-35 tells the story of a servant who was forgiven a huge debt by his master, then failed to forgive a smaller debt that a fellow man owed him. When the master found out, he retracted the forgiveness and jailed the unmerciful servant. The servant, who had been forgiven much, had forgotten what his master did for him and failed to pay it forward to those around him. A cautionary, red-letter tale that reminds us that God has done much more for us than we remember. Jesus uses this parable to show the importance of forgiving others, and tells a story that reminds us that we are not the first to extend courtesy. Do not forget what Jesus has done for you. He advocated (and continues to do so as High Priest) for you when no one else would. He died the death you deserved so you could live the life He deserved. He stood up for you when you were helpless and left to the wages of in, and provided a way out. Do not forget what Jesus has already done for you.
Speak up already
Bringing up problems into the conversation forces us to face them head on. Silence is not golden in such cases. Proverbs 31 (nope we are not going to talk about a Proverbs 31 woman right now) verse 8,9:
Speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly, defend the rights of the poor and needy.
We are not to just speak up to hear ourselves and admire our personal greatness. We are challenged to speak up for those who have no voice, or for those whose voices have been drowned out. Notice the charge here is given to those in a position that speaks and their voice is heard. We are to stand up for the rights of others, even if we are not affected. We are to defend the rights of the poor and needy. Are you poor? Are you needy? If not, then great, because you have something to do. Do not be silent. Do not think that the issues of injustice will fix themselves on their own. The Bible calls on us to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.
It is one thing to speak up, it is another to do something. James 1:27 says that part of pure religion is helping widows and orphans in their distress. Widows back then were left to the mercy of the tenderhearted among them. Orphans, with no parents to train them in the way they should go were also in need. The early church faced this issue and had to act to ensure that no one would fall through the cracks. Jesus has some tough words to say about those who are more talk than walk: “Why do you call me Lord, Lord and do not do the things I say” Luke 6:46. And “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven” Matthew 7:21. Sharing a Facebook post or tweeting about it helps get the conversation going, but it is not a stopping point. Do not be a slacktivist, be an activist for the less fortunate among you.
Luke 12:13-21 tells the story of the rich fool who was blessed with a great harvest. What did he decide to do? He decide to secure his fortune for the long term, and actively sought out ways to preserve his wealth instead of sharing it. God reprimanded him and the story serves as a reminder that the abundance God has given you is not meant to secure your position for personal gain, but it is to be shared with others. To be literal, you may be a farmer blessed with a great harvest, share some of it with the neighbor whose harvest was not great that year. Better yet, share it with those who are unable to grow to have a harvest. Take it a step further? Sure. If you are in a position where you are less likely to be profiled do not hide in a bigger and more secure “barn,” use your position of whatever power/influence if applicable to help others out.
Esther faced a similar dilemma in her time. She had been appointed Queen of the most powerful nation in the world at the time in Persia, but a law was passed that called for the slaughter of Jews within the kingdom. She could basked in the royal security to defend her, and her life was already cushy and everything was provided for her. Yet God had put her in a position to help her people, whose voices had been drowned out by the dreadful Haman. Mordecai reminded her that perhaps God had put her in that position for such a time as this. Queen Esther came to the conclusion that she needed to stand for her people, for God’s people, even if it meant dying. Don’t hoard, what God has given in abundance share with those in need.
Remember who vengeance belongs to
Oftentimes we speak out against God’s wrath as found in Revelation run contrary to the loving, sugar coated Jesus that we would define as “loving.” How would you feel if someone you loved was hurt. Even more, what if someone you loved was hurt unfairly? Now multiply that by all the people that have ever lived on this planet, times the bottomless love God has for all of His children (yes you and I are God’s children) and imagine how angry God must be at all of the sin and suffering caused by satan? We get very angry over the instances here and there that pop up and make the news cycle, but the God who sees all that CNN and FoxNews do not choose to cover widely makes you wonder how can a God not be angry at all the hurt going on. Remember that vengeance belongs to God, and He will ultimately take care of all of the injustice that has ever occurred. The judgement is going on now friends, and we can choose to let Jesus’ blood cover all our sins, or try to stand for ourselves and our actions in the day of judgment. Trying to take matters into our own hands does not always work out for the best (see Abraham, Rebekah, etc).
Change my heart
Ultimately, sharing a viral post, tweeting the latest hashtag, or writing about the whole mess that we find ourselves in right now may get the ball rolling, but lasting change only comes from within. Yes, protests can make the conversation go mainstream and cause us to think, but only a changed heart will cause us to act. There is a reason why Paul says he dies daily. Each day we live on this Earth must be a new opportunity to share the love of God with those around us, in words and actions. There is a reason why the Bible says that God will take the stony heart out of our flesh and give us a new heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). Our hearts become so easily hardened that God doesn’t even try to repair the current heart, he transplants it with a new one. You want change? Change the heart of those around you with the same kind of love God has shown you. You want change? Make every effort to kill evil with love. If the heart is not changed, then we will only ever be points along a circle, always going around, never going far. This is a prayer you and I must pray every day. Do not let one day pass. Jesus spent three and a half years changing the hearts of twelve disciples (and countless others) in what led to a worldwide revolution. Even if you are loving towards one person, keep doing it. Keep showing kindness. It is then that we will truly make progress.
Even so, come Lord Jesus.