Friday, October 17, 2008

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

God gives us His Word.

The Bible is a guide to understanding what matters to God, and what should, therefore, matter to us. And we find that some of the people-groups God cares most about are: widows, orphans, the poor & the oppressed. Oftentimes the reason someone will fall into one of these categories is due to some form of injustice that has occurred in their lives. Evil. I don't even like to watch the news anymore. All it does is confirm and multiple my fears about how evil is pervading our lives. These fears build upon one another until I am completely overwhelmed and rather than do one thing, I feel paralyzed and I do nothing.

I've been reading this book, "Just Courage" that is written by the President of the International Justice Mission. IJM is responsible for locating injustices within the world and going in and trying to 'right the wrong'. Sometimes this is through offering free legal services to those who are seeking justice, other times (and what is more often the case) it means that they are physically going into the brothels, the rice mills and factories and literally saving people by sneaking them out and getting help. It's definitely not a 'safe' job.

Several things, in this book, stood out to me and I'll mention a couple.

In response to people thinking that they can't make a difference in the face of crushing evil, the author of "Just Courage" states, "...while our arguments against the impracticality of doing justice are understandable, they are ultimately not very interesting to Jesus. Nor are they very helpful to the slave boy or to the prisoner being tortured or to the widow brutally thrown off her land. Imagine yourself enslaved in a rice mill or handcuffed on a concrete floor or violently chased from your own home, and then picture yourself listening to millions of Christians explain why there is nothing they can do to help you."


Oftentimes I can think up good, even great, excuses as to why I don't do something. I need to keep myself safe, I would probably just mess things up, and there's nothing I can do, are but a few of the excuses I oftentimes generate in my mind to avoid doing something that causes me fear. But, ultimately, if I were the one enslaved and forced to work 6 days a week, 16 hours a day in a rice mill, how would those excuses look to me? Would I be, "oh, okay, sure, I understand why you did nothing. No big deal." Of course not. My initial thought would probably be, 'well, why didn't you at least try to help me?'

Fears about personal safety aside, we also have fears about what will happen to our stuff or how will others view us if we step out to stop evil.

"We fret over what might happen to our stuff, our reputation, our standing, our children, our ideology and our investments, and in the process we forget that we have these things so we can live fully for Christ. All the things we were given were never meant to be safeguarded. They were meant to be put at risk and spent, for we are in a life or death battle."

"Blessed to be a blessing." I've heard that phrase countless times and have always believed it to be true; however, I don't know that it ever really hit me, until reading this passage from the book, that EVERYTHING we are blessed with is to be used to live for Christ. There's a reason I have the job that I do. There's a reason I have money in my bank account. There's a reason I was born in America. There's a reason for my gifts/talents. It ALL is to be used to fully follow Jesus and to serve those around me. I wasn't given these things to sit back and live a comfortable life while, halfway around the world, there are 5 year old girls being sold into sex trafficking. And I'm by no means saying this is easy. I'm writing this post to myself as much as anyone else. But, I truely believe that all of us want to be courageous. All of us want to make a difference. All of us want to have a life of significance.

So, the choice before us is: Do we want to be safe or do we want to be brave? We can't be both at the sametime. I think, in our heart of hearts, that each one of us wants to be a Shadrach, Meshach or Abednego and be able to stand before an oppressor and say,

"...we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." Daniel 3:16-18

We mistakenly think that if we're scared, that must be God telling us not to do something. We forget that Jesus tells us that his disciples will suffer for following him. However, as mentioned in "Just Courage", "...we will avoid a lot of suffering because we are following him- the suffering of guilt, of self-destruction, of addition, of hell...In fact, if following Jesus does not feel dangerous, I should probably pause and check to see if it is Jesus I'm following."