The apostle Paul said our spiritual struggle is invisible. “We wrestle not with flesh and blood,” we are told in Ephesians 6:12. Today many Christians have made this struggle very self-centered. We “fight” to stay pure, we “meditate on the Word” to remain clean, and we “study” to grow in grace. Yet all this ends up being selfish.
In today’s narcissistic society, we have unintentionally made the Lord’s commands about us rather than about Him. We have forgotten the broken people He called us to serve. Our “warfare” is about taking the gospel to others!
Justice is a prevailing character trait of our creator God, yet it is so overlooked by the church world in which we live. James speaks of the injustice of honoring the wealthy; Corinthians speaks of honoring the lesser members of the body of Christ. Jesus was born in a manger so He could identify with those who do not have a religious or wealthy heritage—yet we overlook that fact today.
Justice is one of the key elements to becoming a king. Proverbs 31:8-9 says, “Speak up for the people who have no voice, for the rights of all the down-and-outers. Speak out for justice! Stand up for the poor and destitute”(The Message). This is a text written from a godly woman to her son taking the role of kingship.
Psalms 72:4 says: “Please stand up for the poor, help the children of the needy, come down hard on the cruel tyrants” (The Message). Here, again, is a continued appeal to be a good king.
One of the Jewish rabbis stated it this way: “The role of a king is to protect the weak and poor from the strong and rich.” It is natural for a person of power, influence, and wealth to overlook and ignore Matthew 25, where Jesus spoke clearly of the cost of mistreating the poor.
When I read the Bible, I see clearly that a lack of justice affects our worship (Isaiah 1:13-17) and it also affects our prayer and fasting (Isaiah 58:2-7). Justice is not something we can ignore!
Mission: M25, which was officially organized in 2004, began to bring justice to the overlooked and ignored in 1990 when I was pastoring Christian Heritage Church in Amarillo, Texas. In an attempt to “level the playing field,” it was determined that every child—even the poorest—would come to our Christian camp free of charge and that everyone would be treated the same.
I was not prepared for the massive amount of resistance this triggered. Many church members were accustomed to the special privileges given to members over the “street kids.” But we chose to show compassion to the poor, and we have done this now for 30 years. Our camps continue to grow around the world.
Below you can see a “pipe hawk,” which is a peace pipe on one side and a tomahawk on the other. I think God is much like this Native American implement. He is a peace-loving God. He desires to sit around the fire and commune with us. Yet there is a side of God that brings death. Kindness and justice: This Native American pipe hawk reveals two aspects of God’s nature.
Our Lord stated in Matthew 10:34, “I did not come to bring peace but a sword” (NKJV). God is our Mighty Warrior. He is not just involved in internal battles of personal sanctification and holiness, which are vitally important. He is on a mission of freedom. He stands for those who cannot speak up for themselves.
In his book, Live Dead Joy, Dick Brogdon states that we damage the character of God by trying to reconcile His mercy and His wrath. We as humans are unequipped to explain the two extreme sides of God; therefore, we will do ourselves and our followers well if we simply celebrate the two opposites. Consider the pipe hawk as a visual of the church. We are good at presenting the peaceful, loving side of God to our world. But that is only one side of His character!
Through Mission:M25, we aim to preach peace. We use Colossians 4:6 as a guide, which says: “Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.” We show Christ’s love to all. But we also know that we must fight the injustice that is in our society. Sometimes this requires confrontation. There is a violent side of the pipe hawk.
We fight the injustice of our society through Jesus’ of command of “Go ye therefore.” We endeavor to engage the world through personal service and sacrifice. As one Mission: M25 pastor stated, “We leave the sterile office and get our hands dirty in the ‘mess’ of the broken world.” It is our heart not to “wait until they come” but go to the cemetery of demonic possession and find the people who live in chains.
Mission:M25 continues to fight for and speak up for the unborn, Native Americans, veterans (who were met with silence when they came home from Vietnam), Jewish people, the homeless, those who currently live
in prison, inmates who have been released from prison, and those caught in the bondage of addiction.
We attempt to do this by what I call “violent love”—which is defined as risky, costly, and sacrificially serving people. You can see our list of efforts at www.missionm25.org, or you can connect with us on Facebook for more information.
May we fulfill Christ’s commission by showing ‘violent love’ to those all around us who have fallen in the cracks of society. David, the shepherd boy, shouted to Goliath in 1 Samuel 17:45: “I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.” When injustice takes place, we must see it as an insult. It is a defaming of the name of the God of the armies, not the army itself. We must confront it.
Secondly, we minister to people from a heart of compassion. Our guiding light is Matthew 14:14: “And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.”
Jesus said this right after His cousin, John the Baptist, was beheaded. Jesus’ grief did not stop Him from showing compassion to the multitude. We must see broken people as the Creator’s sheep who have gone astray.
To “heal the sick,” according to Strong’s Concordance, means “to serve the weak.” May our fear of the Lord drive us to obedience. May we fulfill Christ’s commission by showing “violent love” to those all around us who have fallen in the cracks of society. May the church today recapture our lost credibility by shining the light of Jesus’ love through acts of kindness and justice.
Originally published in Encourage magazine