Several years ago I was speaking on missions at a local church and in my research I came across a statistic that blew me away.
Every 4 seconds poverty kills a child. Every… 4… seconds…
I couldn’t even begin to wrap my mind around it. Literally, the air caught in my chest and I just sat there staring at my laptop screen. It sounded unbelievable. I thought, as a whole, we were doing so much better, but the battle against poverty is far from being won.
While the Church is beginning to awaken to its role in caring for others devastated by poverty, injustice and oppression, many believers aren’t sure what to do or how to even make a difference. What the destitute need are advocates. Let’s be clear on what that is, though.
An advocate is “one who defends, who pleads another’s case, or who calls for one’s aid.”
Scripture tells us many times that this is exactly what Christ is for us. He’s the go-between, walking to the throne of God and standing in our defense against the enemy; against the justice we deserve for the sin in our lives times and time again. Christ pleads our case, He did so at the cross and he does so still, with the blood-sacrifice made to make amends for all our sins. When we recognize the reality of this in our own lives, we are able to see it much more clearly for others. But not just the need for salvation.
So often we are guilty of missing how that same Christ-Advocate can benefit others. We’ve found it to be true for ourselves, but somewhere alone the way we stop seeing people who are just like us. We fail to see the cashier with the bad attitude as someone who has been cussed out ten times today because of the mis-marked sale price. We fail to see the homeless person on the sidewalk as we blaze a trail to the car to head to the next stop. We flip the channel when a commercial for starving kids comes on or when an injustice in the world makes it onto the televised news. I know I’m guilty of all of that. I make the argument that I don’t have time to “feel bad” if I really stop and see them. And by all means, by all means do not make eye contact or ASK how someone is doing. No, there’s no time for that! I’ve got to get to the CHURCH and do my JOB.
But that’s my job. If I never worked on a church staff again, seeing people will forever be my job.
Because it was Christ’s job to serve the Lord and His people and to advocate for their salvation and for their rescue. My favorite summer of this is found in Micah 6:8, “The Lord has told you, human, what is good; he has told you what he wants from you: to do what is right to other people, love being kind to others, and live humbly, obeying your God.”
One of the best biblical examples of this is King David. He started as a sheep-herder who wrote song after song about the greatness and the faithfulness of God. He was a worshipper, there’s no question about that. But then as he grew up and was made a king after the death of King Saul and his son Jonathan, he was given a place of influence, which every leaders great and small knows, is an opportunity to stand for something. It’s an opportunity to be remembered and that’s a huge thing for someone who started out as a sheep-herder.
In Acts 13:22, God calls David “a man whose heart beats to my heart…” Now, most of know the essentials of Davids story and up until he was King, he was a worshipper and an all around pretty good guy! But power toys with you. Comfort lies to you and says you should keep advocating self; not necessarily the truth. Once David became KING David, the story flips for a good long while. He lusts after a woman that he was spying on from the roof. Then he summons her, gets her pregnant, has her husband killed, and makes her his own wife in an effort to cover it all up – not quite the same worshipping boy we saw in the field just a few short years prior.
In essence, as a young man, he was an advocate for the heart of God. He wanted his co-workers (okay, other shepherds count as co-workers) and he wanted his family to see that God was FOR us all. David wanted to promote the goodness and kindness of the Lord and then as he became more powerful and more influential, he let his life and his work and all the successes go to his head and he started advocating for his own comfort.
I’ve been guilty of that. I’ve seen the commercials for those starving babies and instead of advocating for them, I’ve flipped the channel and guarded my own comfort level. And I know we can’t all be “go-ers”… that’s not even practical so I’m not putting that on you! But we can be “senders” or “discussers” or even just “listeners”. I know that sounds so dramatic but think of it in small ways too. That “midnight snack” you allow yourself, is that really to nourish your strong body or is that to comfort you because you had a rough day? My late uncle used to tell us all the time, something to the effect of ‘every dollar you spend is a vote for what you believe in.’ Are you spending money on worth-while companies and endeavors? Are you forging habits that are life-giving and promoting healthy behaviors and attitudes?
Let’s ask that of our lives today.
Lord, what am I advocating? Whether it’s quietly and accidental or LOUD through my actual voice, is whatever you find me advocating the RIGHT thing? “Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong— then guide me on the road to eternal life.” Psalm 139:23-24