I am not political. In fact, some might say, “I am just a housewife”. But something came over me when I heard of a recent Pastor’s imprisonment. Compassion moved me, so much so, I could almost see the walls, hear the echoing cries from the prison cell he was trapped in.
Missional living, simply put, is “helping others”. It can be going overseas, feeding the poor, caring for widows, or even parenting and passing on scriptural lessons to our children.
Still, when I think of a Missional life, I forget it can also mean not silencing the cries of people hurting, or sharing the plight of a dying world with others who may be ambivalent.
See, Jesus is our greatest example of living in light of eternity; a servant, for others, not for His own cause or reputation. And as a writer, I never want public approval to dictate my passions or purpose.
Maybe that is why I jumped on the bandwagon? I saw a pastor, much like the ones I had met in China….Fearless men, willing to give their lives so Jesus might be known.
And somehow I grabbed ahold of the thought, “What if that was me in that prison cell?”, “What if that was my son or daughter?” Would I want the world to remain silent, as I suffered for the gospel?
Jesus came to redeem injustices. His humble sacrifice was the blood that paid the price so that the wickedness in this world could be made right. Jesus didn’t turn from his cause saying, “this is too hard”, or cave to worldly opinions, for the sake of “getting along”.
Jesus lay at the cross His own reputation. He was willing to not only live, but to die for His own convictions. He was a God who felt the needs of the hurting around Him, so much so, He had to do something.
Here are 5 reasons why speaking out against injustice is Biblical missional living.
1. Jesus came to a proclaim liberty to the captives, recovering sight to the blind and giving liberty to those oppressed. (Luke 4:18-19)
2. Scripture tells us….Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. (Psalms 83:20)
3. The Bible instructs….Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause. (Isaiah 1:17)
4. The Lord tells us: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. (Jer 22:3)
5. We are called in love to…Open our mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open our mouth, judge righteously; defend the rights of the poor and needy. (Prov 31:8-9)
So how do you use your voice to advocate for others?
Here are 5 ways…
1. Take the time to vote. We are blessed with the right to have a say in our community on political, legal, and social issues.
2. Be a volunteer Guardian Ad Litem, advocating in the court for foster children, the abused, or the oppressed.
3. Write letters to congressmen and/or senators helping them be aware of injustices taking place.
4. Go to city council or neighborhood meetings; offering support, advocacy, and encouragement to officials and community leaders.
5. Start a prayer group, petitioning the God of justice for healing in homes, hearts, and communities.
Matthew 7:12 says, “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them…”
And after all, if we were imprisoned for our faith, suffering abuse, bound by the oppression of a dictating government….wouldn’t we want someone to do something?
Though born, raised, and still living only miles from where she grew up, Jen's heart lies in the nations. Jen loves the beautiful tapestry found in the wide diversity of people, different cultures, and all nations. Jen and her husband have been married twenty years, and have parented fifteen kids and counting; twelve foster, one adopted, and two bios. Her multi-racial family reflects her passion for unity, desire for faith without walls, and missional mindset to share both the gospel and the power of redemption to a world desperately needing the hope found in Jesus Christ. Jen and her husband have led in a variety of ministries; including prayer, small groups, children's, and women’s. Jen advocates for the orphan as a board member for the non-profit, A New Song; and loves doing missions work internationally, along with her family. You can find Jen writing about faith, while challenging her readers at her blog, Rich Faith Rising, as well as at tweeting faith-filled messages @Jen_Avellaneda . Jen is also on facebook.
The first time I thought about luxury being something to display God’s glory/character was in Russia. It seems the entire city is built out of concrete and is not the least bit appealing. But the churches were a completely different story. They are built with such beauty because the builders wanted to show the city what God was like, that He was a beautiful God.
I have a tendency to think that luxury is a waste, and more and more I don't think I'm alone. I've heard comments from many believers frustrated about things like a church paying 100,000 for a fountain. It's hard for many students I work with to see luxury in a church and not wonder about all the poor kids in Africa and why the money isn't going there. A good heart, but also exposes a small view of God and a man-centered gospel.
So for me, when I read about David making arrangements for Solomon to build the temple it confuses me. Does God want this temple to be built? And if so why would He want it to be so extravagant when that money could be given away? These are questions I had to take before the Lord to get His perspective. And He reminded me again that it is all about Him and His glory. In Haggai, God was upset when the temple was left in ruins. God did care, even to the smallest carving what the temple looked like. But that doesn't mean He doesn't also want money to go to the rescue and redemption of the oppressed. His heart for the orphan, widow and oppressed is spilled out all over the pages of Scripture. It's not either or, it's both, all, all for His glory.
I see another example of God being delighted in/glorified through luxury. It's in how He builds the New Jerusalem. Rev. 21:19-21 “The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.”
Basically, luxury and poverty are not about us. They both are for the glory of God, for the display of God's character. Like the blind man healed for the glory of God and Esther's beauty to win the kings heart and used to rescue her people from death, it's all for the glory of God. Poverty to show God as the One who steps in and saves the day, luxury shows Him as magnificent, worthy and beautiful.
So the challenge for us is to line up our thinking and motives with the Lord's, letting all we do be done for the glory of God.
Lord, “Bless us and be gracious to us SO THAT your ways may be known on the earth… SO THAT all the ends of the earth will fear You.” (Psalm 67) And may our hearts be more passionate about Your glory than the glory of men. Let all we do be to display Your heart and character.
Check out the rest of the Not About Me November Series
Laura, the creator and host of Missional Women is married and has four kids, two of whom are adopted. Laura and her husband have been missionaries to college students for 11 years serving with Master Plan Ministries. Laura is the Staff Women's Development Coordinator and has discipled over 150 girls, led over 30 Bible studies and speaks to college and women's groups. Laura has authored 5 books, including an award winning 12 week Bible Study on First Samuel, Beholding Him, Becoming Missional, Reach; How to Use Your Social Media Influence for the Glory of God, and A Devotional Journey through Judges, a devotional to accompany the free online Bible study at TheBookofJudges.com. You can find her on facebook,twitter, pinterest, youtube, instagram and her author site.
We care for orphans. It’s just what we do. From the time I was a little girl, I had a passion to help the lost, rescue the hurting, advocate for those treated unjustly. It’s hard work and not always fun.
No one likes the trenches in a war. They are deep, dirty; they are darker, and sit below other people in the battle. Yet, I am learning, God does not always call us to “easy”. More often it’s the trenches He calls us to “go” to, to help other people.
Still, there is something inside us that constantly longs to be carried inside our velvet lined litters. You know, those wheel less chairs, propped up by other people. Deep inside our sin nature…if we are honest, transparent….we all long to be high and lifted up, acknowledged by other people.
Yet, even Christ came humbly, quiet, in a manger. And contrary to some thinking, God calls us to make disciples, to live missionally, bringing love, hope, healing, to fight for justice for those mistreated. And although those places can be difficult, there can be quick molding, humbling being done in quiet serving…if we accept it.
However, my mother always warned me, “It is a very short fall from where a halo turns into a noose.” And to be honest, at times I have been arrogant in my pursuit for equality, my heart to help the hurting.
Those who live daily doing social justice type work can likely relate, quickly suffering from something called a “Messianic Complex”…the thinking that as we help others, we somehow are their Messiah. We can fall into the trap of the first sin of Satan, wanting to exchange our role of servant for that of the Savior. It can creep up unrecognizable, as we crawl out from the trenches and sit high above other people, resting idly in our chairs wanting to be carried comfortably by other individuals.
If we are honest, we have all sat in that chair high above other people…not always in actions, but somewhere in our thinking.
Recently, we drove through a very poor region where other white skinned people surrounded; many toothless, smelly, and smoking; tattoos even covering the children. Quickly my flesh began lifting itself out from the trenches of….”How can I help? How can I love them?”….to wanting to stay hidden, quiet, separate, in my well lined litter (or my new car, if you will). I was self-righteous, pretentious, and to be quite honest…my heart was disgusting.
Even after leaving, thoughts shot at me like a machine gun aiming at a target now unprotected by the trenches of humility…”How could someone cuss like that in front of their kids?” “Where are their parents?”
I wanted to play God. I wanted to call CPS. I want to do something.
But, there was no crime. Only mine. And I saw how quickly working for social justice can lead even I, farther away from Jesus. After all, it’s not what we do, but the heart and the spirit that we do it in that matters.
Any halo I might have had now surely become a noose. I had a Messianic Complex. I had to repent.
Today, I encourage you. If God is calling you to help the poor, feed the homeless, fend for the widow, and care for the orphan; stay obediently in the trenches, recognizing we are all imperfect, following Jesus' model of humility, and diligently seeking the purification offered by His Spirit.
For unsuspecting, pride can rise quickly in serving, becoming our quickest enemy, leading other people not to…but away from Jesus.
Though born, raised, and still living only miles from where she grew up, Jen's heart lies in the nations. Jen loves the beautiful tapestry found in the wide diversity of people, different cultures, and all nations. Jen and her husband have been married twenty years, and have parented twelve children; ten foster, one adopted, and two bios. Her multi-racial family reflects her passion for unity, desire for faith without walls, and missional mindset to share both the gospel and the power of redemption to a world so desperate for the hope found in Jesus Christ. Jen and her husband have led in a variety of ministries; including prayer, small groups, children's, and women's. Jen continues to cling to faith that the local church is God's vehicle to reach the nations. You can find Jen writing about faith and challenging her readers at her blog,Rich Faith Rising. As well as at tweeting faith-filled messages @Jen_Avellaneda . Also, on facebook.
Over and over “gin” I heard my niece make this request of me. I was happy to comply, flipping her upside down or tossing her over my shoulder. She is fearless. And she is loved.
The attitude my family has towards children can sometimes border on idolization. We love them with all our hearts. Each and every grownup stands in line waiting to pick up the youngest in our family – beaming the first time the toddler tries to speak his or her name. Last night my 1-year-old niece brought tears to my uncle’s eyes when she looked up and exclaimed “Ter!” The 1st syllable of Terry’s name was enough to melt his heart.
It is amazing that the children in my family ever learn to walk. There is always a grownup who is more than willing to carry the young prince or princess wherever the chubby, little finger points.
“All children should be loved this much.”
That was a passing comment that my mom made last night as she watched me playing with my niece on the kitchen floor. As her words sunk in, our beloved baby was giggling with delight while the rest of us felt like we had been punched in the gut. What I wouldn’t give to be able to lavish love on the forgotten and abused children of the world! The thought of crimes committed, hearts unprotected and innocence stolen makes my blood boil and it evokes the wrath of God.
Once the disciples asked Jesus a question, most likely out of selfish ambition. Jesus, as He always does, reveals His heart and theirs…
“Who gets the highest rank in God’s kingdom?”
For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.
“But if you give them a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck. Doom to the world for giving these God-believing children a hard time! Hard times are inevitable, but you don’t have to make it worse—and it’s doomsday to you if you do. (Matthew 18:1b-7)
Where love is scarce, fear chokes out playful giggles.
Children grow into adults. Crimes and abuse against them shape their character, their hearts and their futures. A child comes into the world trusting, dependent, requiring protection in order to survive. For those who quickly understand that they cannot trust those meant to protect them, their providers fail to care for their needs, and allow them to be exploited rather than protected, the result is a scarred soul. They are robbed of the ability to trust. Survival becomes uncertain, a full and meaningful life is a fairytale.
Is it any wonder that God’s reserves His harshest judgement for the neglectful, selfish, evil perpetrators of children?
There is hope for these wounded children. They are not forgotten by their Maker.
Even more shocking, there is hope for those guilty of crimes against children. He doesn’t turn a blind eye to their crimes, He offers freedom from their bondage of sin.
The love God has for His children does not decrease or dissolve as we grow older.
He is constant in His love.
He is merciful and forgiving.
He redeems our lives.
Cheryl is on staff with Cru where she currently serves with digital strategies and in launching a new ministry among Millennials in cities across the country. For 12 years she called Russia home as she helped give national leadership to the campus ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. You can find her blogging at CherylOBoyd.Wordpress.com
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Today I am sitting in a small town café writing to you. It’s a rainy spring day and I am full from eating a bowl of soup. It was delicious. Most of all though, I am safe, healthy and have people in my life who love me and care about the decisions I make. This isn’t true for a lot of women though. There are many who are hurting, they carry the weight of their troubles everywhere they go. With no one by their side they are faced with making life changing decisions.
In 2010 I was young, engaged and just finishing up my BA in Psychology. I was volunteering at the Durango Pregnancy Center where I heard the stories of broken women faced with a pregnancy they weren’t ready for. God started to change my heart through this experience. My heart broke and had compassion on those who desperately needed the hope of Jesus. Through reading scripture, I found that someone has to speak up and advocate for the oppressed people; widows, orphans, etc. Since God had put this on my heart, I began praying for these women.
In 2008, I was young and ready to vote for my first time ever. This was such an exciting time. I remember being on my college campus and having the candidates come and speak. It was inspirational. This was around the time they really wanted young adults to get involved in the voting.
As memorable as all this is, the thing I remember the most is my heart for the amendment to define personhood, essentially the law that would help to outlaw abortion, and my vote in opposition to it. I was a free thinker and a lover of women, and anyone who voted for it must hate women and not want what is best for them.
But oh boy, how God has changed my heart over the past couple years. If you are on God’s mission the issue of abortion is not one to be on the fence about. The church needs to wake up and understand the mission God has designed for us. God calls us to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.
Continued from Part 1
The balance, one that is NOT bought by the sacrifice of ignorance, has come in this way.
1) Look. See. Feel. When I am confronted with heart-breaking realities, I must face them. I can feel guilt that I can’t fix them or that my life is so much easier than so many and that makes me want to avoid the reality. But I have to face it and feel the pain of a broken world.
"O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?" Habakkuk 1:2
My obstetrician, whom my husband and I both truly like, shocked me when he explained that he would be returning to the hospital to deliver what remained of a twin fetus “destroyed” (this was the word he used as he spoke in his second language, English) because the baby was found to have Down Syndrome.
This is the world we live in, desecrated by the Fall. Where life can be destroyed and we can recount it with a smile on our face. The news bombards and we are overwhelmed and depressed. But how are we called to respond?
For four days straight. She cooks. Dishes piled high. In an unknown orphanage. Plane ride and a long drive in from Shanghai.
Invisible to the western world. Name unknown. Meek. Quiet. Serene. Uneducated.
Embodying Christ with her disposition. Heart, service oriented. Feeding children.
The broken. Helping her. Smiling. Stacking dishes alongside her. Willingly.
As the poverty rate increases, the political climate tensions, and households everywhere seem whirling in uncertainty, increasingly hard times can leave people paralyzed along seas of desperation. Hearing the world’s birth pains, feeling the contractions of those struggling can overwhelm with guilt-induced deafness when faced with the reality, “We just can save them all.” As a result, instead of swimming with the broken, it can seem easier to stay frozen, watching from dry land, letting fear blind us to those drowning with needs, faking disablement while the life preserver of hope dangles vainly around our neck.