I might moonlight as a writer, give you the impression I’m all wildflowers, literature, and good music, but my day job is nothing but.
I work for an international aid non-government organization. My day job is to seek justice for people who have been marginalized, broken, raped, beaten, starved, and forgotten. I mean, honestly all I do is sit at a computer and tell our story in compelling and graphic ways, but deeply in my job is to seek justice.
All week I’ve been researching for a project, and the bulk of this project has had me watching documentaries and films on human trafficking, reading graphic material, and sorting through endless statistics. And I’ll be honest, by today I felt drained and void. There’s so much sin in the world, what can we possibly do?
But part of this project will have a section on slavery and trafficking in the bible and how the gospel reaches to the least of these. So today I listened to sermons on slavery and read the bible all day.
Did you know that many people discount Christianity because there were slaves in the bible? Did you know that Paul offered to return a slave to his owner, Philemon? Did you know that Joseph was sold by his brothers and bought by slave traders in the Old Testament?
Here’s something I see and hear often: some deed is done by some human in the Bible and we automatically assume that because it’s there, in the canonized word of God, that it must be right or God’s best design. But that seems wrong, right? I mean, we know that adultery is wrong. We know that murder is wrong. We know that polygamy is wrong. But what about divorce? What about homosexual relations? What about pre-marital sex? What about slavery?
As long as we’re reading the word of God as though it’s a story about men and women, a blueprint for how to do, where to go, who to marry, and so on, we’re going to get lost. We might have everything in order, but we’re going to get lost.
The bible is not a story about how to defeat giants, level cities, or find a good wife. It is also not a story about how to kill your lover’s husband, sleep with your daughter-in-law, or have 700 wives. It is a story about God. It is the redemptive romance of God whose people strayed far, were enslaved, lost, murdered, broken, disobedient, and more, and how He is in the process of restoring and making all things new.
We cannot look to the people in the bible as a blueprint, we can only look to the gospel as the blueprint. The gospel alone tells us what we are, whose we are, and where to go from there.
It is the only thing that sets right all things wrong, from that first bite of fruit until this moment until the last moment before Glory. As long as we’re looking to the right and left for our cues, we will be frustrated and history will repeat itself. But with the hope of all those sinners who’ve gone before us, those beautiful witnesses who sinned large and hoped deep, we look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
Did you know that Joseph’s story ends with this beautiful line: You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good. That story is about God, not Joseph, not the injustice he suffered, not the leadership gifts he had, and not even the redemption he saw while on earth.
It’s a story about God.