The gospel at its heart is an invitation to live life and not escape from it. That’s a conviction that has grown in my heart the last two weeks as I’ve preached on the issue of joy and peace. This morning, I wonder what that means in the grid of life broken by sin and enslaved by deception.
“Imagine standing at the height of all the earth and seeing the depth of human poverty.
Journey with me to the middle of the Himalayan mountains, where not long ago I met men and women striving for survival. Half the children in these particular villages die before their eighth birthday. Many don’t make it to their first. Meet Radha, a mom who would have fourteen kids if twelve of them hadn’t died before adulthood. Meet Kunsing, a disabled child who spent the first twelve years of his life chained in a barn because his family thought he was cursed. Meet Chimie, a toddler whose brother and sister died when he was two months old, leading his mom to commit suicide and his dad to pass him around desperately to any woman in the village who could provide nourishment. Just as shocking as those you meet are those you don’t. Some of the villages in these mountains are virtually devoid of young girls between the ages of five and fifteen. Their parents were persuaded by the promises of a better life for their daughters, so they sent them off with men who turned out to be traffickers. Most of these girls live to see their eighth birthday, but by their sixteenth birthday they are forced to have sex with thousands of customers. They will never see their families again.
When we meet people, hear stories, and see faces of injustice like this around the world, it is altogether right for us to respond with compassion, conviction, and courage. Compassion overwhelms us because we care deeply for children, parents, and families whose lives are filled with pain and suffering. Conviction overtakes us, for every one of us knows instinctively that stories like these should not be so. It is not right for half the children in these Himalayan villages to die before their eighth birthday. It is not fair for children born with disabilities to be chained in barns for their entire lives. It is unjust for pimps to deceive parents into selling their precious daughters as sex slaves. Ultimately, such compassion and conviction fuel courage —courage to do something, anything, for the sake of Radha, Kunsing, Chimie, these girls, their parents, their villages, and countless other children, women, and men like them around the world.”
A Compassionate Call To Counter Culture, David Platt
Live life! The gospel invitation is to live life, a life experiencing the joy of God and the peace of God; and when this joy is constant (“rejoice always” Phil 4:4) and this peace surpasses understanding (Phil 4:7), then the recipients of these graces are more equipped to live life than anyone. Gospel changed people have the wonderful privilege to de-root themselves from self-centeredness and self-preoccupation and to open their eyes wide open, perhaps for the first time, to the plight of others. The call to live life in joy and peace is not the call to have an enhanced me, but it is the foundation to be compassionate, to have conviction, and to act courageously.