Wednesday, July 6, 2011

God's Command to Believers (Part 3)

This is the third in a series of five blogs. (They will be interspersed among the others) If you don't read any others, please read these. This is the heart and soul of our summer.

In Part 1 we saw that there is a serious problem in the world today. In Part 2 we saw that God is not silent about this problem and that he has revealed his heart for justice in scripture. Now, in Part 3, we will again see from scripture that God has a plan and purpose for believers in the work against evil and the care for victims of oppression.

"Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." Psalm 82:3-4

"Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body." Hebrews 13:3

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others." Matthew 23:23
Jesus seems to have held justice and mercy in high regard. He, at the very least, commands that they, along with faithfulness, not be neglected.

"Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause." Isaiah 1:17
Early on in our trip a gentleman saw our shirts that read, "Seek Justice" on the front in bold letters. He said that message was all wrong, as we are not to seek reparation against wrongdoing. I knew what he meant, but I also knew that the Bible is not commanding us to seek revenge on behalf of the oppressed when it calls us to seek justice.
This gentleman forced us to think more about these verses and how we are to seek justice.
If you read Isaiah 1:17 or Psalm 82:3-4, God is not calling us to fight evil, to seek revenge against evildoers, or to enact vengeance upon them. Our call is focused on the victim. The call is not to go in with guns blazing, but to separate the oppressed from the evil and to look after them and their needs. I think that human nature, and maybe especially American nature rubs against this thought. It's difficult to read the gut-wrenching accounts of slavery and forced prostitution and not want to react aggressively, even violently, against evil. Or maybe that's just because half of our team was in the Marine Corps. Either way, God tells us in Deuteronomy 32:35-36 that vengeance and recompense is his.
"Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.' For the LORD will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants, when he sees that their power is gone and there is none remaining, bond or free."
We have a call to love the oppressed. We have a call to rescue them from the wicked that they are enslaved to. We have a call to be mindful of those who are being mistreated around us. We are not to be silent. I love this! We are to be ambassadors for Christ, acting on his behalf to seek justice for the oppressed in the world. How can people say that being a Christian is boring? It's the greatest adventure! This will be emphasized in part 5, but it must be mentioned that this work to rescue physical victims of slavery should not.. it cannot be separated from the gospel. It cannot be separated from sharing with victims about the opportunity for spiritual, everlasting freedom. We cannot presume to know how to best incorporate these together, as we have not been a part of victim rescue or aftercare, but we can pray that opportunities abound for utterance of Christ's love to ALL people, including victims of trafficking and the traffickers.

Heeding God's call.. having a voice in the fight against trafficking is not as difficult as you may think. In part 4 we will look at ways in which we can work to be involved in the fight against trafficking.

"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8

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