Save us from the “Rah Rah” Resurrection

Every year there is some comment, post, article, etc., out there that will wonder why Christians go through the “morbidity” of Lent or “dwell” on the crucifixion. It’s a braggadocious claim about how they live in the resurrection power. Jesus is alive!

Jesus IS alive. And the resurrection IS where we dwell. We live in the power of the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead.

But the grave has to be considered to understand the power of the resurrection. And considering it once in some bygone era is like saying, “I love you” to your wife on the wedding day and then thinking that’s all done.

The POWER of the resurrection is only effective because of the grave. To remember and consider brings to remembrance the incredible depth and power of the resurrection. It is a refresher.

But it is more. The more I walk in the discipline of Lent the more I consider not just my own sin, but just how deep the problem of humanity really is and how desperately we need the work of the cross and the resurrection in our world. I don’t want just the “rah rah” cheering of a resurrection Sunday, quite honestly.

The Spirit brings me to a place of humility where I just don’t feel like a “cheer.” I sense the depth of sin and then understand the need for the power of the resurrection. And that saves me from a “rah rah” Christianity. It saves me from pat answers.

The depth of humanity’s problem comes home to me right now in the issue of human trafficking. Over the past year or so I have dug deeper into the issue and have asked my church to step into this issue as well. We have had some in-depth discussions and right now the awareness of the issue is the biggest thing. The “what” to do is still uneven because laws are uneven, treatment of prostitutes is uneven, and even our acknowledgement of the existence of human slavery is uneven.

Over the past several months I have been able to wrap my mind around the statistics. Today when I hear a presentation and the statistics are given, I only confirm what I am learning. I am hearing the same numbers… and the numbers are staggering. I am also thinking about the numbers not only in terms of sex trafficking, but in labor.

Last night, however, was another layer of the depth of this problem. I was in a meeting with the presenters being from an organization helping women and girls get out of trafficking. The statistics were not “shocking,” meaning they were still the numbers I had learned. But one of the presenters was a young woman who came out of that slavery. Her personal story brought home again the utter horror of sex trafficking. She told of the physical and mental torture applied in her own life to keep her trapped.

It is these stories, and it is not lost on me that I heard this story during Lent, that save me from a “Rah Rah” Resurrection mentality. I am reminded of the depth of sin. I am reminded that the problem is worse than we like to admit. One of the gods of this culture is sex and we just don’t like to name it. If we have struggles in some area, we call it an “issue.” We pretty it up with other names, but the beast is still the same. It is sex. It is the god we worship. It demands full allegiance and will slap down any opponent or any potential rebel with a fierceness that causes people to simply shrink back and stay in bondage.

We are a nation of addicts and it is sexual addiction driving the slavery involved with human trafficking.

In just this one area I have been impacted since that meeting feeling the depth of the problem. It is the absence of fathers. It is the absence of authority. It is the absence of standards held high as to what true sexuality should look like. It is the absence of parenting. It is the absence of spiritual parenting.

And make no mistake: this is a problem that must be exposed and addressed as a truly “justice” problem AND a spiritual problem. It’s a both/and problem. And we need both/and solutions.

We have more people bound up in human trafficking today than we had slaves on plantations in 1860 in the United States. And then that gets multiplied around the world.

And “rescuing” people out of just sex trafficking isn’t enough. It is one person who has suffered physical and mental abuse for years. They don’t know how to function. They have to be trained in living. Think of the tremendous amount of human capital it takes to take ONE person out of some sexual slavery situation, where they have only known abuse since being a young child. The mental state that person is in. No education. No job skills. No mental capacity to handle properly interacting with men or women…

The TIME it will take to help that person gain a new perspective on the world. The money it will take to house and feed them… then educate them. Then find them a job. Then keep them close in ongoing relationship so they know how to handle human interaction in a healthy way…

Now, multiply that by 3 million, if we could save almost everyone just in the United States involved in sex trafficking. (And that estimate is low.)

And it is at this point I am overwhelmed by the stunning depth of human depravity. My own desperate need for the cross and resurrection is brought into perspective. And then I see the utter bondage of humanity. It is here I cry out for repentance… and resurrection. And it’s not feeling very “rah rah” in this moment.

Lent keeps me in focus. It’s not a pleasant walk, but friends, we need this walk. We MUST understand that no matter how much we say, “This world is in trouble,” unless we come to a place in our lives where from time to time we face the facts, we are only saying hollow words.

And realize this: I have only mentioned one thing. Human trafficking. I have not touched on war, poverty, refugees, persecution…

It is a world in trouble. It is a world in need of a Savior. It is a world where I know I need the power of the resurrection and not just some “rah rah” attitude.

Lent brings me back to the place where I quit the trite phrases, roll up my sleeves, and wade into the muck and mud of this world knowing I live in the power of the resurrection.

The situation is dark. Our Savior is great. Our work is needed.

Thank you, Lord, for Lent. 

The ugliness of human trafficking

Our subject matter in our church today was heavy. We had a couple come in and talk to us about human trafficking.

I then see this article posted tonight. The U.S. is in the top 5 in human trafficking.

We probably have more people bound in sexual slavery in the U.S. today than we had numbers of slaves at the end of the Civil War. Add labor trafficking to that and it’s probably well beyond the number of slaves we freed at the end of the Civil War.

For someone to act and try to bring justice in this matter is simply overwhelming. But if the Church would act as a whole and see this matter as justice in the Kingdom of God… something significant COULD happen.

We need a new movement of William Wilberforces in our day.

 

When the oppressed cry out

20 Then the Lord said, “The cries of injustice from Sodom and Gomorrah are countless, and their sin is very serious! 21 I will go down now to examine the cries of injustice that have reached me. Have they really done all this? If not, I want to know.” (Gen. 18:20-21)

When the cries of the oppressed have reached the ears of God, he will come down. 

This is a powerful story… and not for reasons that are just too easy to use as “targets” in our cultural wars.

The story is powerful because God visits Abraham FIRST before going to examine the situation in Sodom and Gomorrah. He knows Abraham will talk to HIM about the situation, and Abraham will plead for the city.

The story is powerful because God hears the cries of the oppressed. Sodom and Gomorrah were not “neighborly” in any sense of the word. They were abusive in EVERY sense of the word (which is far beyond the narrow cultural war view we take today.)

The story is powerful because Abraham does indeed intercede, even though God ultimately has to act.

These two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl have raised more awareness this year than any other year to human trafficking. There are dozens of teams representing hundreds of people in New York/New Jersey these two weeks talking about human trafficking because Super Bowl week is a HIGH traffic time for sexual abuse and prostitution.

This past week was also the commemoration of Roe v. Wade and the prayers of many who went up asking God to hear the cries of those who never got to utter their first cry.

There are abuses in so many places and there will be a time when those cries will reach the ears of the Father and action will be taken.

It’s not one tiny sliver of sin. We don’t get to pick the sins according to our political beliefs. It’s greed. It’s sexual abuse. It’s selfishness. It’s physical abuse. It’s marginalizing the poor. On and on. It’s across the political spectrum and every one of stand in the need of prayer and repentance.

The question is this: are we the kinds of people where God would come and talk to us because he knows we would take up intercession on behalf of the city? Or, does he pass us by because all we’ll do is say, “Yep. Burn ’em up!”

Let us hear the cries of the oppressed. Let us pray on behalf of the oppressed. Let us pray for the sake of the righteous. Let us hear what God is trying to stir in our hearts for the purposes of intercession. 

Slavery

Today is National “Human Trafficking Awareness Day.” 

I am teaching American History this semester and have the awareness we are in the middle of the commemoration of 150 years since the Civil War. This year would be the pivotal year of Gettysburg.

While the Civil War was fought to end slavery in America, the cold awareness needs to grip us again that human slavery has not stopped. There is the human trafficking side we think of when it comes to sexual exploitation. I live in Minnesota, which is one of the highest trafficked states, ironically.

But there is also the labor trafficking side. It is the sweatshops and slave factories in other parts of the world producing the products we love and buy all the time. Some would estimate human trafficking has higher numbers today than in the days of the Civil War.

We don’t need another war. Dear God, we don’t need another war of ANY kind…

But we need awareness. We need ethics. We need to apply pressure. We need to open our eyes to the issues that are still there and see what God may have us do in this time.

Slavery Hasn’t Ended

There are so many organizations responding now, it is hopeful. I heard another presentation today in my Kiwanis club on human trafficking. The statistics are astounding. Minnesota is ranked 13th in the nation for human trafficking.

It’s not something overseas. It is something here.

I love the story of William Wilberforce and his lifelong efforts to end the slave trade in Great Britain.

The question I ask is, “Are we in another era for a new movement of Wilberforces?”

Millions around the world are subjected to sex trafficking and slave labor. It is an enormous problem. So, where do we start?

These are matters of prayer. Is there something we can do locally? Is there something our church can partner with on a local level, or start something new?

I love the passion of youth and how they respond to these needs. They can raise money in a hurry for projects that work with slave trafficking all over the world. It may be time to harness that power and turn it toward home. What can we do locally with the passion of our youth driving it? What is possible?

This is Lent, but let’s not keep Lent at arm’s length. Let’s not talk about what the United Nations could do or Congress could do. What do WE do?

6 Isn’t this the fast I choose:
   releasing wicked restraints,
   untying the ropes of a yoke,
   setting free the mistreated,
   and breaking every yoke?
(Isa. 58:6, CEB)