When Jesus gave the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:37-40 he said:
37Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
The first quote is out of Deuteronomy 6:5. The second quote is from Leviticus 19:18. Jesus joined these two commandments because the Pharisees had separated them. They believed that they could properly worship God while acting unlovingly towards their neighbors. The Bible makes it very clear that you cannot properly love God without loving your neighbors. The Old Testament is filled with commandments to care for the alien, the orphans, the single mothers, the poor, and the slaves. Jesus raised the standards with the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) where he said that anyone, ANYONE, regardless of race, ethnicity or religion, but ANYONE in need was a neighbor.
But how are we to love our neighbors? If you take Leviticus 19 in context it states:
“‘Do not defraud your neighbor or rob him. ‘Do not hold back the wages of a hired man overnight. 14 ” ‘Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the LORD. 15 ” ‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly. 16 ” ‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people.” ‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the LORD. 17 ” ‘Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt. 18 ” ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.”
That’s the context in which God calls us to love our neighbors. According to this passage, justice is love in action. Justice for our neighbors, fair wages, honesty, freedom and the ability to live to God’s standards is love.
We fight to end modern-day slavery because we love God. We fight for justice because it is God’s children who are suffering. We seek to end oppression and suffering because it keeps people from knowing and experiencing the love of God.
There are real actual slaves today. It’s given different names (bonded labor, indebted servitude, etc). But it’s slavery like it’s always been. Human being who are nothing but property. Who are forced to work and when they can no longer work they are discarded.
These real slaves are near you. Check out the Slavery Map at http://www.slaverymap.org/ and click on your state.
We have the power to help end this injustice.
- Pray. Matthew Henry famously said that “we can do much after we pray but we can’t do anything until we’ve prayed.”
- Buy Fair Trade. This is a small act that has powerful consequences. 70 percent of the world’s coco beans are from West Africa where an average of 15,000 children must pick them. These are children who have never, and some will never, taste chocolate. Buying fair trade is more expensive but it’s fair, the growers get paid a fair price.
- Learn. It is still shocking that so many people today are completely oblivious to modern-day slavery. There are slaves in Richmond, VA today. There are sex slaves all over Northern Virginia. There are slaves very close to us. Be educated and join Providence in helping end this injustice.