“Freely you have received; freely give”
Writer: Ryan Sclater
A common complaint against the plausibility of Christianity comes under the cover of apparent sympathy with those innocent sufferers of evil—the poor, the helpless, the widow, the orphan, the blind, the lame—who all seem to needlessly undergo pains in a world that we claim was created by a good and sovereign God. How, we ask, can this God allow such suffering? In response to this problem, many arguments have been put forward by Christians, which all, in the end, require the listener to repent and believe. For this reason, it seems that God often chooses to call rather than argue his people into the Kingdom. But the Christian must ask another question when considering this situation: if the temporal suffering of the poor, the weak, and the downtrodden is so unacceptable, how much more do we need to act as unmistakable, irresistible signs that point constantly to the surpassing glory and worth and beauty of Christ, who will in the end wipe away all these earthly tears in eternity?
I should be quick to point out that I am not arguing that we should forget about earthly suffering; being so enraptured by the light of Heaven that we forget to love our neighbors here and now. The problems that we face in this world are completely unacceptable and require some sort of response on our part as ambassadors for our gracious and loving King. This is the foundation of Lighthouse Voyage: that we would not stand idly by while exploitation and oppression continue to devastate individuals, families, and communities in India and all over the world. The seriousness of sexual exploitation breaks our hearts. It gives us no other option but to intervene and to bring light into the darkness, wholeness to brokenness, and hope to the hopeless. We earnestly believe that God, far from being the reason for this immense suffering, is working despite and even through this suffering for our good and His glory.
Suffering in this world is not merely explained away by the Christian, but conquered. We use even the worst that the Enemy can throw at us as a chance to radically love our brothers and sisters across the world. We stand in the face of the most tragic circumstances, the most terrible sins, the most saddening histories, and we do not give up, do not lose heart, do not grow weary, do not grow numb, but allow God to continually break our hearts, cut down our pride, and send us out again and again to proclaim grace in His name to every suffering soul. As suffering wears us down and reveals our desperate need for the love of Christ, we wade into suffering to ensure that all who suffer know that there is One who can wipe away every tear. We cannot turn this world that is so quickly fading away into heaven on earth, but we can fill the whole earth with praise in the midst of pain, with hearts turning ever towards His glorious face.
The reason we intervene
And why must we do this? Not merely because the suffering of others makes us feel sad. The depth of Christian love comes from the depth of Christian forgiveness; freely Christ has given all for us. We cannot fathom the ways that Jesus sacrificed in order to even be found among us in human form, let alone to die in our place, and finally, to rise again to life that we may be raised with Him. And because we have been miraculously raised with our Lord, we carry out His mission and raise our brothers and sisters out of poverty, out of oppression, out of slavery, and most importantly out of sin and into faith. After all, Christ’s first response to a paralyzed man was to address his primary need for the forgiveness of his sins, but He did not neglect to tell him to walk away from the encounter on his own two legs. Earthly suffering, then, the prickly problem of pain, needs to be tackled out of the abundance of Christian love.
The means we use
For this reason, Lighthouse Voyage will always prioritize loving relationships in our mission to set captives free. No one is undeserving of our love and no task is beneath our attention if it can contribute to healthy and whole individuals, families, and communities. Nothing is too dangerous, too unpleasant, too menial, or too humbling, because nothing can stand in the way of helping those precious people who are still suffering under oppression and exploitation. The fight against exploitation is not just about defeating exploitation in general, but saving each individual and personally loving them into wholeness as a person and oneness with Christ. And the more we can come together as the body of Christ to serve our brothers and sisters around the world, the more we will catch glimpses of what it will finally look like when Jesus comes to wipe away those tears for good.
We know that as we freely give away our lives, it will be costly. But what do we really lose? Precisely nothing. The trick is to realize that if we sacrifice all that we have for the good of our brothers and sisters, we actually lose nothing of any real significance. After all, we do not own our lives anyway. Our time, our money, our interests, our ambitions; none of these actually belong to us. If freely we have received, giving freely out of a re-created heart is the only possible course of action.