It was a treat to participate in END IT last night at First Baptist Paducah. Those who led us in worship, as well as those who called us to action, are very passionate about the cause: “Shine a Light on Slavery.” If there were ever an issue where Christ’s gospel is relevant and real, this is it. What we are seeing in the END IT movement is a grassroots viral effort to stop human trafficking in its tracks. This is an impassioned social movement to which – in my opinion – the church must speak.
In advance of yesterday’s events across the globe, U.S. Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, convened a hearing to examine progress in U.S. global efforts to end slavery and human trafficking – including recent authorization of legislation for the End Modern Slavery Initiative. The February 15 hearing featured powerful testimony from actor Ashton Kutcher, co-founder of Thorn, and Elisa Massimino, president and CEO of Human Rights First, both sporting the END IT red “X” pin. That red “X” means that “you’re telling the world that slavery still exists and you won’t stand for it.” By using our influence and our hand, we carry the message of freedom on behalf of millions upon millions of victims.
It was so beautiful at our evening gathering to hear Samantha’s testimony. It takes a brave young woman to tell the story of her own depravity, just so she can testify of God’s redeeming grace! May we, like our new friend whom God brought from Los Angeles to Paducah, likewise humble ourselves and speak boldly of His power to deliver and set captives free. Our God is a rescuer, and He is on the hunt for those who are broken, marginalized, abused, and seemingly hopeless.
We who know Christ know freedom – because we’ve been set free – “free indeed” in the language of Jesus (John 8:36)! All Americans should value freedom, as our nation was founded upon the principle of “liberty and justice for all.” Our First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and freedom to petition our government for redress of grievances. Such freedoms form the very underpinning of our civic culture, and political freedom is a priceless blessing, but spiritual freedom is infinitely better.
We who are in Christ owe our spiritual freedom to none other than God, who by the death of His own Son, paid for it in full upon the Cross. Christ is the only Way for any of us to know true freedom (John 8:31-32). Christ’s sacrifice for us was not measured by money or political advance, but He gave and accomplished everything for us because of His great love for us.
Now you and I can enjoy the privilege of loving, as we have been so marvelously and lavishly loved. Love means noticing, caring, embracing, helping, and serving – and sometimes love requires even more. It is an action verb. I need those who are younger than I – and sometimes, I must admit, more energized – to remind me never to allow my love language to be all talk and no action.
As a matter of fact, I look forward to all of the ways in which the young people of our church and community will help us see the needs which are all around us. These are real needs. Human needs. Needs of eternal significance. May we respond like Jesus would have us practically love our neighbor in distress (Luke 10:25-37). Such mercy reflects Christ’s own heart, and so you and I must depend desperately upon His Spirit to make freedom a reality in and through us.