Injustice. Oppression. Murder. Violence. Exploitation. Rape. Genocide. Terror. Judgement. Human Trafficking. Discrimination. Poverty. Gender inequality.
The world is a mess and we all know it.
I find it very easy to stand with the poor, the forgotten, the exploited, the abused and the outcasts of our world. But I am challenged and stretched to my limits when I think about standing with the perpetrators of such injustice. I was recently in Calgary and got some time to catch up with some very good friends of mine during my visit. We got together and they asked about my recent trip to Thailand and Cambodia with World Orphans and the Traffic Jam Campaign. I began telling them stories of what I had seen and witnessed. I shared with them memories and moments from the slums, red-light districts, bars and brothels that we visited during our time there. They were shocked and horrified of how critical the situation of human trafficking was in South East Asia and how low the status of women was in these countries. One of my friends, ever the outspoken one, declared that he thinks we should administer our own justice “Boondock Saints-style” and give perpetrators the choice of castration or a bullet in the head.
Although I do acknowledge that this would probably greatly reduce crime and most perpetrators would think twice before they acted…I am left to think that if the “bad guys” were to “get what they deserve”…well then I’d be paying a high price for all the sins that I’ve committed as well.
And so I am caught between paying the penalty…restorative justice…and radical grace. Grace…something humble yet powerful and always undeserving.
I think of John Newton (July 24, 1725- December 21, 1807), the former slave trade who wrote the most famous hymn “Amazing Grace”. He was a former slave-trader; He bought and sold human lives. He sent people on a death-sentence trip across the Atlantic Ocean and into slavery in America. He robbed them of their freedom and human dignity. So when he says “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…that saved a wretch like me”, he truly means what he says. We’ve turned it into a nice, clean hymn for sanitized church-goers and yet it is a song that belongs to thieves, murderers, rapists and slave-traders. Thank God that change is possible! Thank God that there is hope for our wretched souls!
And so I must believe that anyone can be transformed, even John and traffickers…the perpetrators of the modern-day slave trade. I am not naive; I know that many people will choose not to change. Yet I have to believe that all people can change.
The old has gone and the new has come. We are the living, breathing testimony of grace at work. We are the proof that love is active in the world, hope is not lost and amazing grace is given freely! We once were lost, but thank God that now we have been found!
Let’s join together, bringing all of our brokenness… all of our humanity and lay it down in exchange for radical, supernatural grace. Change is possible. Grace is waiting.