When God calls us to something great, it is immediately followed by a faith decision. Similarly, every action towards making our world a better place is a faith decision.
For example, when we go about alleviating poverty or bringing the gospel to the unreached, we’re placing faith in what can be. We are looking at the current situation, calling it “not good enough,” and then acting to create a better situation. When Jesus calls us to help the poor, he expects a faith-based and faithful response. This response requires understanding our place in the world.
Jesus’ disciples were not expected to leave the world, but to be part of it—and to be vehicles of change in it. Jesus makes this point in his final prayer for his disciples:
“I do not ask that you take them [my disciples] out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth—your word is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (John 17:15–18 LEB).
From the beginning of our faith walk to the end of it in this life, our journey is about being in this world, as actors of change. Faith is not a journey that is about removing ourselves from this place, but one about bringing God’s kingdom to this place. It’s a chance to make change happen that matters—to be empowered to change the course of history for the better.
What we do with faith is as important as coming to faith, for what we do once we come to Jesus is what makes a difference in the lives of others. It’s where change for the betterment of our world occurs.
How is your faith connected to your actions? Is your faith changing the way you live each day, and the way you help others?
This post originally appeared under the title "The Unfathomable Power of Faith."
“Where do you want to be in five years?” a professor asked me in the middle of the crowded dining hall.
It was March of my freshman year at a Christian university.
“Oh, I don’t know,” I answered. “Maybe Uganda? Somewhere doing missions work, though.”
While there is nothing wrong with wanting to go into full-time missions, there was a problem with my answer. The problem was that I wasn’t being honest with myself. I didn’t truly see myself in Uganda, or even want to go there. But I wanted to want it, because I thought that was what faithful Christians were supposed to do.
I thought full-time overseas missionary work was the best work any Christian could be called to. That was my first mistake. The second was that I didn’t have a clear understanding of what being a missionary really was.
Like many Christians, I had a misconception about the nature of missions work. I was 19 and convinced that full-time missions work in an impoverished nation was the best way to serve God. And I was worried that it meant I wasn’t a good enough Christian if God wasn’t calling me away to do big and scary things.
I disregarded the fact that I am an introvert who is easily exhausted by groups of people. I disregarded the fact that God hadn’t given me gifts of public speaking, teaching, or leading. I knew I could learn all those things if the mission field required it of me. God would give me what I needed to succeed in his plans.
And that’s true. But I was disregarding the gifts that God did give me; and I knew that going into full-time overseas missions wouldn’t be the best way for me to use those gifts. I knew that I didn’t really feel called to Uganda. I had for a long time felt like God was calling me to worship and serve him through writing. Of course, I could’ve written in Uganda, but I knew God was asking me to not go that far—he was asking me to stay close by and work on creating art that could make people feel and remind them what’s important in life. He wanted me to spread the gospel right here.
Every believer receives spiritual gifts to use as a member of the body of Christ. These gifts empower us to do God’s work. Not everyone is going to be gifted and called to lead. Nor will everyone be called to missions work in another country. We’re all different, and that’s a great thing about the body of Christ:
“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” (1 Corinthians 12:27–30 ESV).
It is important that believers work together as different parts of the same body. If a finger suddenly decided it didn’t want to be a finger anymore, and started to act like an ear instead, everything would fall apart. As a body, we will be most successful at spreading the gospel if we each use the gifts God has given us and not attempt to be someone other than who God created us to be.
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:4–7 ESV).
The professor saw through my lie and called me out on it.
“What really gets you going? What do you love?”
“I love writing. I’ve always wanted to write.”
“Why do you see yourself in Uganda and not in, say, Paris, writing every day at a café?”
“I-I don’t know.”
“Why full-time missions and not full-time writing?”
“It just doesn’t seem like enough,” I finally confessed.
There it was. Sometimes, doing the things we’re good at doesn’t feel like enough. Even when God gives us gifts, we disregard them in favor of pursuing what we consider to be a more noble or spiritual occupation.
I believed the myth that becoming a missionary in a far-away country was the best thing anyone could do for the Kingdom of God. I know I’m not the only Christian who has made this mistake, and this has led Christians to mission fields they do not belong in. When this happens, the kingdom is missing out on the work we are actually called to do.
Being a missionary doesn’t always mean traveling across the world. Being a missionary means taking on the mission of spreading the gospel—which is something we are all called to do:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20 ESV).
Being a missionary isn’t always about leaving. Sometimes it means staying right where you are and using the gifts God has given you. And no calling is higher or lower than another. The whole world needs the gospel, including the community you live in now.
After pursuing a writing career, God might still call me to Uganda. I’m keeping my ears open. But no matter where I go or where he calls me next, I’m going to listen and be honest with what I’m hearing.
I encourage you to do the same. Respond to the call God has placed on your life. Be a missionary in whatever you do.
It is easy to take peace for granted. For us in the developed world, we have freedoms and safeties that are unknown concepts to people in impoverished nations around the world.
On this International Day of Peace, let's reflect on peace as a biblical concept and how standing together for the betterment of our world is good for everyone.
Most of us in the developed world have peace in knowing where our next meal will come from and when we can expect our paycheck. We have peace because we feel safe in our homes. We have peace because we know we have family or neighbors who are capable of helping us if something goes wrong.
Yet the peace we have is something we don’t always appreciate. And this peace is not automatically given.
Peace has to be worked for, and that’s something God reminds us of repeatedly throughout Scripture. Peace takes effort, and effort means consciously rejecting the evils of the fallen world.
“Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14 ESV).
Peace doesn’t come naturally or on it’s own; it has to be actively pursued. We know this because not all regions experience the same level of peace.
And a lack of peace can result in terrible things. We're witnessing countries where thousands of citizens flee in fear for their lives. We see instances of hundreds of people being denied access to clean water because they are considered to be an “unclean” caste. We see injustices and we have to stand against them. We have to take action.
Many of the artisans behind the products in the Jesus' Economy Fair Trade Shop are from regions where peace isn’t assumed or guaranteed. When they wake up in the morning, they experience a very different world than you and I. Yet, despite the conditions of poverty and physical turmoil, these people get up every day and work hard to provide for themselves and their futures. They have hope and courage stronger than we can imagine.
When we support these artisans, we’re not just helping them become financially stable—we are also fighting for a future of peace for their families, communities, and countries. Fair trade is a way to support businesses that create peace. It's a way to take our simple everyday choices and advocate for the betterment of our world.
Peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit described by Paul (Galatians 5:22). Being peaceful and advocating for peace is a trait indicative of a faithful life. There will be pain and poverty in the world until Jesus returns, but we should walk alongside people in their pain, and pursue peace. Doing so reveals the love of God.
“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14 ESV).
We also need to recognize that true peace will never be found on earth, but is only found in God. He is bigger and more powerful than all war and poverty and suffering. He offers us a life beyond sin and death, and when we accept that, peace transcends our lives. When we rest in God’s truth, we have no reason to be afraid. Jesus reminded his disciples of this:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27 ESV).
True peace is only attainable in the Lord, and while we’re on earth, we get to share that peace with others. Jesus did not give us his peace to selfishly keep for ourselves. He gave it to us so we could go out with the same confidence and love, and do his will.
Help us alleviate poverty and bring peace to those who don't have any by donating today.
We look around us and are daunted by the poverty and suffering and darkness we see. We know it will take a lot of work to change, and we know God asks us to, but we often choose to sit back and wait.
It’s easy to be lazy and complacent and wait for other people to do the work. But these are some of the most dangerous ideals. They threaten the kingdom of God. The whole body of Christ needs to be working together if we are going to get things done. Even if the hands are equipped with a hammer and nails, they can’t get anything done if the feet don’t take them to the construction site. We simply have to rely on each other. Paul uses the body metaphor in 1 Corinthians to remind the church of the importance of unity. He says:
“But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (1 Corinthians 12:24b-26 ESV)
We have our own jobs, families, and lives, and these things help us justify spiritual laziness in the church. Sometimes, we don’t even notice we are failing to act because we feel like it’s a positive thing to be investing in ourselves. Laziness can, and often does, mask itself as selfish hard work. We might be working for recognition and self-righteousness instead of in love and for Christ. But we have to acknowledge that work done for the wrong reasons has no place in the kingdom of God.
The body of Christ needs to be operating together—and it needs to be moving with the intent God desires. When believers do things for the wrong reasons, the action itself is rooted in selfishness and sin. The action may be fruitful for a time, but it will crumble because it has the wrong foundation. The church cannot stand on actions carried out without love. Paul understood that it is difficult for believers to be united for the right reasons:
“And I will show you a still more excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:1 ESV)
I know we’re all a little tired; it seems like less work to focus on our lives than it is to participate in a body of believers. It’s especially hard when we don’t call all the shots. Listening to God’s direction, and any leader’s direction, makes us incredibly vulnerable. When we start putting others first, we stop guarding ourselves as much as we like to.
But it is vital that we do this. We radiate God’s love when we love others. And the body of believers will not lose anything by rejecting selfishness, and choosing love instead. Paul reminds us:
“If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:3 ESV)
It’s not enough to have action without love, and it’s not enough to love without action. The things we do on a daily basis should be in response to the callings God puts on our lives. We need to be giving it all we have. Paul returns to this issue in his letter to the Colossians:
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17 ESV)
Let us, as the church, check our motivations at the door and leave our selfishness at the foot of the cross. Think of what we could accomplish together, if we truly acted as one, with a heart of love and thankfulness:
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” (Colossians 3:23 ESV)
Satan wants a lazy church. We fail when we work for people and not for the Lord. But if we, as different members of the same body, rely on love—if we root ourselves in the foundation of God’s love—we can bring real change and light to the world.
One of the biggest challenges we’ll ever face as a Christian comes when God says, “Stay.”
We’ve all been there. And I don’t know about you, but that command only gets harder to hear the older I get.
It can be one of the most difficult things we have to do, especially when we see people all around us actively doing amazing things for the Kingdom. You probably know many people changing jobs, starting movements, and uprooting their lives across states, or even countries, to follow where God is leading them. Maybe that’s you right now. Whether you are in a season of action or not, you will undoubtedly come to a time in life when God says, “Stay.”
It makes you feel small. It makes you feel weak. It makes you feel unneeded. We get uncomfortable because we know that in order for big things to happen, people have to actually be doing things. And sitting on the sidelines feels wrong.
However, just because it feels wrong, doesn’t mean we are being punished for being bad servants or that it is wrong at all. Everyone needs rest sometimes.
Our job in these moments is to listen to what God is telling us. Why is he asking us to stay still? What are we supposed to do in the quiet? The answer is going to be different for everyone, so if you want to know what God is asking of you, you have to grapple with it yourself.
The biblical King David dealt with many moments of waiting on God. In his darkest turmoil and loneliness, he came to a deep understanding of stillness and quiet, and what God wanted him to learn from it.
Throughout the Psalms, he cried out to God continually because he felt alone, forsaken, and scared. One psalm (while not ascribed to David) is a reminder that it is alright for God's people to not constantly be taking action.
“Be still and know that I am God. / I will be exalted among the nations, / I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10 ESV).
The silence does not mean God is telling us to be lazy or apathetic to his plans. Sometimes it means that he is doing something big and we just need to wait. David encouraged God’s people to find peace in the waiting. He says,
“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, / all you who wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 31:24 ESV).
But it’s not always easy for us to be at peace with the silence. And it wasn’t easy for David, either. At a time when he was facing intense depression and exhaustion, he says,
“I am weary with my crying out; / my throat is parched. / My eyes grow dim / with waiting for my God” (Psalm 69:3 ESV).
Yet in all his suffering, he learned that God’s timing would always be better than his own. In the same Psalm, when his throat is aching and his eyes are puffy with tears, he declares,
“But as for me, my prayer is to you, / O Lord. / At an acceptable time, O God, / in the abundance of your steadfast love / answer me in your saving faithfulness” (Psalm 69:13 ESV).
David, a man after God’s own heart, had to learn how to rest in God’s silence and find peace in his timing. And it wasn’t easy for him. While he valiantly waited about 15 years until his time to become king, at other times he made big mistakes.
David often despaired, as we all do. He cried out hundreds—probably thousands—of times for God to listen to him. The silence tore him up. But he waited on God, and he grew in faith because of it.
“But I am like a green olive tree / in the house of God. / I trust in the steadfast love of God / forever and ever. / I will thank you forever, / because you have done it. / I will wait for your name, for it is good, / in the presence of the godly” (Psalm 52:8-9 ESV).
Being grounded often seems like a punishment to us. It creates a crisis within us and we begin to question who we are and who God is. And that’s OK. Cry out. Struggle with it. Fall on your knees and really listen to God. Listen to the silence.
As a child, 95% of what I said could not be understood. But my mother insisted that I be allowed to enter school as a normal student and hired speech therapists. Nothing short of a miracle later, and a ton of hard work, I now speak perfectly. But I remember that I was once the voiceless.
Around our world there are millions of people who lack access to these opportunities. And there are millions who are kept poor because of their social standing, or the color of their skin, or corrupt regimes. And I cannot live in a world like that.
I cannot live in a world where there are people do not have a voice.
It takes more than ideas to change the world. It takes more than belief. But belief is a start.
Every significant advancement toward equality in our world has required sacrifice—more than ideas, more than belief. From the abolition of slavery, to the right for women to vote, to civil rights for African Americans, to the end of apartheid in South Africa—a movement of self-sacrifice has backed beliefs.
The biblical book of James put it this way:
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” (James 2:14–16 ESV).
True faith requires sacrifice—for the betterment of others. True faith requires that we do more than pray, or wish others well, or have the right theories or ideas.
I believe in a few things that are worth sacrificing for: Jesus as my savior for starters. And that this same Jesus has in view a global economy that will make our world a better place. That there is such a think as a Jesus’ economy.
When we talk about ‘economy’ we usually think of GDP, stock prices, and currencies. While I intend for the term Jesus’ economy to evoke these ideas, there should also be a part of the name that is a bit jarring. Jesus and economy aren’t usually paired together, but they should be.
Jesus believes that each and every life is of equal value. And thus Jesus’ economy is about empowerment of the impoverished. It is also based in the belief that empowering the impoverished is for the betterment of the entire world. Jesus’ economy is about creating a new spiritual and physical reality for the impoverished and marginalized—for those most in need.
Today, there are many people who claim faith in Jesus, but I ask: Where then is the action, the change, the renewal of our world? Why are there still millions upon millions of people impoverished? Prayer is not enough. Words are not enough. A mere claim to salvation is not enough. James puts it this way:
“But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?” (James 2:18–20 ESV).
A belief in Jesus requires action. As James puts it: “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead” (James 2:26 ESV).
Jesus’ economy is based on self-sacrifice and its currency is love. It is a belief that the voiceless deserve to be heard. It is love in action.
Imagine what could happen if we all rose up and took action. Imagine how the world would view Christianity. Imagine the lives that would be renewed. Imagine.
When we approach 1 Thessalonians 4:13–5:11, the passage often used to justify the "rapture" view, we do so based on our cultural context. In doing so, are we missing the point of the passage entirely? In this sermon, I address this very important question. I delivered this sermon at The Table, a missional church plant in Bellingham, Washington.
It's been almost 30 years, but there was a semester when I was carefree and my choices didn't feel so frantic. I lived with only a thin foam mattress, an orange milk crate holding three t-shirts and two pairs of jeans, and a bike. That baby blue Schwinn got me from my apartment on El Cajon Boulevard and the only other places I needed to go: two classes at San Diego State University and my boyfriend's house. We only had 20 bucks at any given time, so there weren't many options. Of course, who needs money when you have young love and a sandy beach?
That was a long time ago. Today, I have more resources and more stuff which brings with it a boatload of options. I no longer grab one of three t-shirts without a thought. Now, I stand in the closet, wondering what I will possibly wear. Endless decisions shrink us into pin-balling, muddle minded undeciders who no longer know what we want out of life.
I'd like to think that that world is my oyster. We have never had more opportunity and freedom to decide. I just hate to admit that 55 coffee options on a swanky chalkboard confuse rather than empower me. I feel the endless decisions as if I'm suffocating, or at least bleeding. I only know this because I've written about choices for over ten years.
One of my unpaid jobs is to write, so I sit a lot. Drafts become boring and stressful because I don't make any money, so I look for opportunities to procrastinate. I could still choose a baby blue Schwinn, but now I like to walk. I head outside as much as I can without feeling as if I'm wasting time. The exercise clears my mind while I think about the next sentence.
Sometimes I walk just for a word.
I also get outside to wrestle with my thoughts on how I can empower people to become better decision makers. I don't find the right answers staring at social media all day, at least answers that God tries to quietly whisper to my own spirit and hopefully yours. The Bible helps, but so do the walks.
So much of this non-fiction is about a single verse in an old book, but the following pages are also the result of an awareness that happens when our eyes are up walking in the world, instead of gazing down at life on a screen. The text is meant to be a tool to help us step away from the multitude of choices, take a sabbatical from the rat race, and ask ourselves why we do things just because we learn them from our mom.
The walking also makes a space in my mind for powerful metaphors.
On one of my walks, I noticed blood on the sidewalk. It was dark red, dried up, and dribbled all along the pavement. How did the blood get here? Did the sufferer know she was even making a mess?
The thought brought me back to the day I wore white pants to work and a fellow co-worker stopped me to ask what was wrong with my leg. Turned out, I had cut myself shaving in the morning rush to check in by 8:00 A.M., and during my 30 minute commute to Seattle, I bled like a banshee through my linen trouser leg.
I didn't know I was bleeding until someone pointed it out.
Today I want to do for you what my co-worker did for me. The metaphor lies within these questions:
Are you wounded and bleeding from decisions you've made?
Are you choosing from a true place within the unique soul God created when He carefully formed you?
Are your closets and cupboards full, but you have no time?
Are the choices you make today setting you up for freedom or slavery down the road?
This excerpt is from Kim Galgano's redemptive memoir The Chance to Choose. Galgano is the founder of Chicks with Choices ™ and Dudes with Decisions ™, outreach ministries devoted to help people blend faith with everyday decisions and uncover the unique path they were meant to live. You can order The Chance to Choose here. A portion of the proceeds from The Chance to Choose will be donated to empowering women in Bihar, India via Jesus' Economy.
We all have moments of despair, but there are also the days when the sun peaks through the clouds and we stop and say, “You know, God really is here and working among us. I’m not alone at all.” It’s these moments that we have to capitalize on. These feelings of new life, of resurrection, can transform our lives and the lives of others.
The last month has been rough for me. I have often felt like everything is going the opposite way it should. But today, I realize that Jesus is here. It’s not that I didn’t believe that before—of course, I did—but today I feel like he is sitting next to me. When I think about Jesus’ presence among us, about his resurrected life, I imagine how Mary Magdalene must have felt upon seeing the resurrected Jesus. John’s Gospel records:
“Mary stood outside at the tomb, weeping. Then, while she was weeping, she bent over to look into the tomb, and she saw two angels in white, seated one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been lying. And they said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have put him!’ When she had said these things, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?’ She thought that it was the gardener, and said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will take him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned around and said to him in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni’ (which means ‘Teacher’). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, and my God and your God.” ’ Mary Magdalene came and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord.’” (John 20:11–18 LEB).
When you encounter the living Jesus, in the midst of despair, everything changes.
Here’s how my viewpoint recently changed: I just had the wonderful opportunity of announcing that the organization I lead, Jesus’ Economy, will be able to fund two church planters in northern India for another year. For us, reaching this goal was huge and difficult. And honestly, I wasn’t sure if we would make it. But I also couldn’t bear the thought of not living up to our commitment to fund these two church planters for three years.
The prompting of being on mission for Jesus, in proclamation of his resurrection, is what kept me going through this rough patch. And God coming through inspired me.
I believe the resurrected Jesus will keep you going, no matter what you’re going through.
I often think of what various holidays are like for those serving Jesus around the world—and of course, I especially think of our church planters in northern India.
Our church planters in northern India are living self-sacrificially everyday, spreading the gospel to those who have never heard Jesus’ name. Their lives are living testimonies of who Jesus is. And this puts it all in perspective for me: all of my difficulties do not remotely compare to their hardships. And yet, they get the splendid opportunity of seeing Jesus work everyday—which really makes it all worth it.
Easter resurrection is something real for church planters in northern India: They regularly see lives fully transformed by Jesus. And so, their lives make me wonder how much better and fuller my life would be if I could make the same kind of sacrifice. This makes me think of Jesus’ words just prior to the cross:
“This is my commandment: that you love one another just as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this: that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12–13 LEB).
Living resurrected life with Jesus means living self-sacrificially. And that changes everything. It makes every difficulty an opportunity to do something good for someone else. It takes the perspective off of us, and puts the perspective on God’s workings in the world.
Until this last month, I thought of thankfulness as an attitude, but it’s so much more. Thankfulness is a perspective we look at the world through. As we are grateful for the resurrected life of Christ, and the resurrected life he offers us, our worldview changes. It’s not about saying, “Oh, I’m so grateful I have all this (whatever this is for you).” Thankfulness is saying, “Oh, I’m so grateful that Jesus came for me (for all of us), and that he is with me now—right here.” Saint Paul put it this way:
“One person prefers one day over another day, and another person regards every day alike [for the Sabbath and festivals]. Each one must be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who is intent on the day is intent on it for the Lord, and the one who eats eats for the Lord [in celebration], because he is thankful to God, and the one who does not eat does not eat for the Lord [that is he fasts], and he is thankful to God. For none of us lives for himself and none dies for himself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For Christ died and became alive again for this reason, in order that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living” (Romans 14:5–9 LEB).
Paul is talking about various viewpoints for feasting, celebration, worship services, and fasting among his audience, but this has a direct implication for us. Whatever we do, let us do it for Christ, in thankfulness—in order that he might be Lord over all things in our lives, in every season.
It’s this perspective that perfectly fits with the Easter season, when we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection for each of us, for all of us. This season we celebrate Jesus’ resurrected life and his resurrection of our lives.
I’m not saying that this sorts everything out; like all of us, I still get depressed along the way. But today on the other side of this, I feel different—today, I realize that God is much greater than I could ever imagine. Today, I realize that he indeed always comes through—he resurrects our efforts and turns them into something beautiful.
At times, justice becomes a bit of a catch phrase, sadly even a cliché. Yet it’s one of the most important concepts we can understand and live. I have seen injustice with my own eyes, and each day the news tells each of us of acts of injustice. But rather than feel defeat, let’s stand up, take action, and do something about it. Here are four ways justice should be the cry of today’s Christian.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, we see Jesus taking on our pain and anguish—and on the cross, we see him taking on our sin. Think about these four things Jesus says and prays in the Garden:
“Sit here while I go over there and pray.”
“My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with me.”
“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
“My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will must be done” (Matthew 26:36–46 LEB).
It is here that we see the man—Jesus. It is here that we find one who walks alongside the downtrodden, the hurting, the poor, the outsider, the refugee, the sinner—all the way to the cross. Here we find the one who walks alongside all of us, all the way to the cross. Here we see God enfolding, through Jesus, all people into his kingdom. Jesus does God’s will, so that we can have life.
In the garden, Jesus asks if the cup can be removed from him; but not his will, but God the Father’s be done. Jesus realizes the burden he is about to carry. This burden is described in Isaiah (over 500 years before Jesus) as:
“By a restraint of justice, [the servant] was taken away and with his generation.
Who could have mused that [the servant] would be cut off from the land of the living? Marked for the transgression of my people.
And [Yahweh] set his grave with the wicked, and [the servant] was with the rich in his death, although [the servant] had done no wrong, and there was no deceit in his mouth
Yet Yahweh was pleased to crush [the servant]; he afflicted him (with sickness). If [Zion] places [the servant’s] life a guilt offering, [the servant] will see offspring, [the servant] will prolong days. And the will of Yahweh is in [the servant’s] hand, it will succeed. Out of trouble of his life [the servant] will see; [the servant] will be satisfied by his knowledge.
[Yahweh says,] ‘My righteous servant will bring justice to many and he will bear their iniquities’ ” (Isaiah 53:8–11, my translation).
As painful as it is, it pleased Yahweh that Jesus should go to the cross, for it is in this that God found not just ultimate obedience, but also the bridging of humanity with himself. The judgment of God for our wrongdoings was satisfied. Once again, we were put into right relationship with God.
It is in Jesus that we find the refugee on the cross. Here we find the guilt offering for all of our wrongs. Here we find one who carries our sin, bears our iniquities, and intercedes for transgressors. Here we find a restraint of justice bringing justice to those who do not deserve it.
But what will we do with this justice, with this freedom?
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” said Martin Luther King, Jr. in his work from Birmingham Jail. And it is injustice that we see today—all over our planet.
Near the end of his life, Martin Luther King, Jr. was working to bring equality by creating jobs. And yet, so much of the world still lacks jobs, because we haven’t completed the task. This is injustice.
We look around the world and we also see those who are oppressed—who lack spiritual and religious freedom, who lack knowledge of Jesus. This too is an injustice.
We must stand up, lift up, and rise up—to fight these injustices, boldly proclaiming that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
We can read Jesus’ call to care for the “least of these” in Matthew 25:37–40 as a direct preface and parallel to what he will do on the cross. Jesus went to the cross to make us who do not deserve to be right before God, made right. And just before doing so, he calls us to live this message—noting for us that whether or not we did will be a primary question when he one day returns to earth.
So when we look around our world, and see a lack of access to basic healthcare, clean water, and jobs—like I have seen in the impoverished region of Bihar, India—we know that we must take action.
Jesus cries out for this. This is the Christian cry. And it is my personal cry, as I am personally broken for the hurting that I know in Bihar—for those who have placed their hands in my hands and cried out to God with me for justice.
We can also read the final words of Matthew’s Gospel, spoken by Jesus, as a commission based on his ministry in life, on the cross, and in his resurrection. And it’s a commission of action. Jesus says:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18–20 LEB).
Yet, there are still millions of people who have not heard Jesus’ name—again, this is the case in Bihar, India. In Bihar, there are 101 Million people who have never heard the name of Jesus. This again, is an injustice. All people deserve the chance to have access to the gospel.
The question becomes for each of us: What will we do about it? Why are we content with the knowledge of God, but not the actions of God? When will justice become part of the gospel? Because in actuality it is—we’re just not living it.
Do not walk away with guilt; walk away inspired to take action. Let’s continue the work of Jesus, the apostles, the early church fathers, and people like Martin Luther King, Jr. Let’s mark this season as the one everything changed, and we began to renew our world again with Christ, by his power and grace.