Have you seen these red X’s around today?
It is Shine a Light on Slavery Day. I can honestly say that up until a few years ago I had no idea that slavery still existed. I was first made aware after my trip to southeast Asia that families in that area sell their daughters into sex slavery to feed their family. I wasn’t aware that much of the pornography industry is funded on the backs of slaves. Many of those young girls and women do not choose to be there, they are slaves. Upon realizing this, my reaction was first horror and then anger. Horror that some women live in such desperate and humiliating circumstances, and anger at the men who put them there. Notice I say men. My anger and disgust ran rampant at how men see women as objects to be used for their self-gratification instead of human beings. I felt justified in thinking that men were terrible and disgusting, how could they not care about the pain that their sin caused women, if they could just have an once of self-control the world would not be in the mess it is in.
They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:29-32, ESV)
That pretty much summed up what I thought of them. Get ’em, God.
But then I read on.
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. (Romans 2:1, ESV)
Wait a sec. I don’t do these very same things.
I may not think I do. But, I must, because the Bible says I do. So even if I don’t know how, I practice the same things as the men I would like to see severely punished. Truthfully, their sin is terrible. Rightfully, people are working hard to end slavery in this generation. Sadly, we are fighting the wrong enemy.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesian 6:12, ESV)
The problem with slavery isn’t men. It is sin. And sin is something that affects me just as much as it affects them. The truth f the matter is that ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. I am not innocent. I am a sinner. I can’t fix sin. So I can’t fix slavery. I can’t even fix myself! But I know The One who can.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19, ESV)
How did he do this? While it is true that he literally gave sight to the blind, it is true on a deeper level as well. Jesus came to set the captives free from their slavery – by defeating sin. We don’t have to settle for the efforts that we produce against slavery, as limited as they are in the grand scheme of things. We are not defeated because Jesus has conquered. There is hope for those in slavery right now. Although they are spending their lives as captives, they can spend eternity in freedom because of what Christ has done. There is hope for those who perpetuate slavery right now. They are slaves to sin and have been given over to a debased mind practicing all kinds of evil. But there is hope for them in what Jesus has done. He came to set them free from their bondage to sin. There is hope for the self-righteous 20-something casting judgment on all men. Jesus came to set me straight, to show me my own sin, to rescue me from it, and to help me love people with the message of redemption of which I am the chief recipient.
So, my red cross today is in support of ending slavery to sin in my generation, to spread the good news of the gospel of Christ to the ends of the earth.