Two Fishing Poles: Evangelism and Justice

Evangelism and JusticeA ping pong ball goes bounces back and forth across the table batted by two eager paddles vying for victory, only I am the ball.  I bounce daily, weekly and seasonally between two callings; preaching the gospel and justice for those who have been sex-trafficked.  

Isaiah, the prophet, said, “The Spirit of the Sovereign God is upon me because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted and set the captives free.” (Isaiah 61:1)  The same Spirit that anoints us to share Christ everywhere we go is the same Spirit that also anoints us to set captives free and heal their hearts.

At times, I long to rest quietly at one end of the table, preferably the evangelism end.  If I had to choose a mountain to die on, it would be that one.  Souls safe in their Father’s arms for all eternity and the Father overjoyed to have them within His dwelling.  Forever safe from hell.

But then, those who are living in hell made by man, are ever in the heart of the Father also.  Righteousness and justice are the foundations of His throne.  He gives us His righteousness but then expects us to participate with Him in justice.  Justice is simply this- loving your neighbor as yourself.  Injustice is man participating with Satan and filling the earth with hell.  Malachi the prophet speaks for God saying, “You have wearied the Lord with your words…. By saying….. Where is the God of Justice?”  God is there, but he has given us  the task to:

seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow (Is. 1:17 NRSV)

Am I not compelled to fish for those as well?  

God has given us all that we need to bring justice.  But the thing that stops us most is fear.  Fear of the unknown, fear of a lack of finances, fear that we will be put to shame when we try and fail which we probably will a few times, and fear of not knowing how.  Our God can overcome all of these obstacles, even if we are not.  International Justice Mission describes it this way.  It is like a Father and child who need to bring in the luggage.  The child says, “I can’t carry the heavy ones!”  The Father replies, “Carry in the ones you can, and I will take in the rest.”

And see to it they are also delivered from a horrendous and torturous hell?  I wish I could leave it.  I wish I did not have to do these things in my heart.  But the only other option is disobedience.  I know that we are to serve the Lord with gladness, but the problem is not as thrilling to solve as souls getting saved and angels rejoicing in Heaven over one saved sinner.  But is there really less rejoicing over one trafficked person rescued, healed or delivered?  Of course not.  And this is where our gladness must come from.  The joy of making God joyful at one little girl rescued, or one bonded slave or shrimp fisherman set free.  Is it not also salvation?

First Thessalonians 5:23,24 remind us that God wants to set us apart spirit, soul, and body.  Jesus died for our souls to be healed, our spirit to come alive and our body to be healed.  Isaiah 61 also describes the anointing and gospel is for the body to set captives free, the spirit to be alive through the preaching of the good news and the soul to be bound up and healed after it’s been broken.  Physical freedom is the salvation of body and ought not to be separated from the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So it must be that I and many others will ping and pong across the table between the paddles of preaching the good news and setting the captives free.  I must remove the net dividing the table.  There is only one wonderful saving gospel of Jesus Christ, and it is for the whole tri-part person, and it is a joy to play the table.

Which cause are you drawn to the most in your life?

–TC Smith