We can be delivered from one kind of bondage and end up in another.
Our broken hearts search for meaning, for belonging, for redemption. But nothing the world offers can satisfy that deep longing.
Without the hope of the gospel, our outlook remains bleak and our souls remain cloaked in despair. But a different hope exists—a palpable, incredible, death-defying hope that whispers, freedom is here: Jesus.
Knowing the gospel, knowing Jesus, is the only way to true freedom. This truth drives the love that rests at the center of the fight against human trafficking—and at the center of our organization as well as many other Christian non-profits.
Our culture often says, “Follow your truth. Do what makes you happy.” But as believers, we know “The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable” and impossible for us to fully understand (Jeremiah 17:9). And even people like Albert Einstein recognize the potential for evil within the human heart. He said, “I do not fear the explosive power of the atom bomb. What I fear is the explosive power of evil in the human heart.”
We are unable to save ourselves from this evil so deeply entrenched in our past and in our hearts. Thankfully, Jesus carried out the greatest rescue of all time when He came to break the chains of sin and death. Sin is the root of all pain and suffering in the world, and Jesus came to defeat it. To pay for our sin and to offer us the path to freedom by believing in His name. This should have a profound effect on the way we stand against evil and help people find hope and healing in a shattered world.
Think of it this way. Atheist Penn Jillette once said, “If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life. . . . How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”
Let that sink in for a moment.
Now, think on this with me: Is it compassionate to withhold the truth, even when it isn’t popular? Can we be fully, truly compassionate and bend to culture?
Jesus “had compassion” on the crowds (Matthew 14:14; Mark 6:34)—those who were sick, wandering, hurting, and hopeless. He provided physical healing, but that wasn’t all Jesus did. Jesus also cared for their hearts, cared that they were like “sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34), and cared enough to be the kind of Shepherd who would not only teach them and lead them on the right path but also lay down His life for them (see John 10:11-18).
But Jesus the Shepherd taught bold and honest truth. He called out sin among the religious leaders quite often; He addressed issues of sin and selfishness within His group of disciples; He didn’t avoid certain topics for the sake of popularity. Jesus spoke the truth, and His own people wanted to crucify Him for it.
As a leader of a Christ-centered non-profit, my effectiveness in walking in true compassion is rooted in my faith—in believing what the world needs most is Jesus. He changes everything. I want to keep walking with Jesus, trusting and loving Him, and bending my knee to the authority of His Word, which gives life. And I want to encourage my brothers and sisters in the faith who are devoting their lives to helping others through the nonprofit world: be cautious and aware of the deceitful schemes of the enemy to keep all people blind to their need for a Savior.
I see the enemy using deception to tempt leaders to fall in line with a kind of worldly compassion that sees the gospel and the truth of God’s Word as irrelevant in the work of justice and alleviating human suffering. We should do everything in our power to save people from earthly misery, but that’s not nearly enough. If hell and judgment exist then the most compassionate act of all is to warn people of eternal misery. So, I want to ask you a question that I’ve been asking myself lately too:
Do we still believe Jesus is the solution to the evil in the world or have we been deceived into thinking telling people the good news of the gospel isn’t that important?
Watering down the gospel and exchanging the truth of God’s Word for a lie to be more compliant with the culture will water down the effectiveness and power of our mission. Love does not mean accepting or condoning what God has called sin; it’s caring about people enough to embrace them and to speak the truth in love about salvation.
Nonprofit leaders who believe people can find redemption apart from Christ may still do some wonderful work in the world. Justice and mercy are characteristics of God. As people made in the image of God, we can live out these characteristics while not understanding where they came from. But compassion without Christ can only go so far. Pointing people to Jesus is the most loving thing we can do.
God’s Word is a powerful truth that can change a person’s entire life. It’s God’s love letter to us. It’s the lamp under our feet and the light for our path (Psalm 119:105). It’s medicine for the soul. It’s our map for living a life of purpose and joy and it’s our final authority as the people of God. We don’t rewrite it when it’s no longer culturally acceptable or when it says something that doesn’t align with our sense of compassion.
But the enemy appeals to our sense of virtue and promotes a version of compassion devoid of God’s love, which contains the very truth that has the power to set people free.
This counterfeit compassion leaves Jesus Christ out of the equation. It is ready and willing to ignore God’s Word if God’s truth doesn’t sit right with what we feel or with popular opinion. Counterfeit compassion gives way to rebellion against God, and the irony is that this does not bring greater freedom, it actually gives way to more brokenness and suffering. Counterfeit compassion wants the justice and compassion of God’s kingdom but not the King.
But world-changing compassion doesn’t separate mercy and love from God’s truth.
We must be willing to humble ourselves, receive the free gift of salvation offered to all humankind, and then have our minds renewed so that we might know how to live and love and walk in ways that are truly right and pleasing to God (see Romans 12:1-2; James 1).
Christian non-profits are being asked where they stand when it comes to the centrality of the gospel in their mission and where they stand on hot button issues like abortion, homosexuality, and the transgender movement. This is a critical moment with incredible potential to demonstrate to the world an unashamed love for God and a devotion to His truth, which is the key to the transformation we long to see in the world. We can’t have truth without love or love without truth—we need both to show real, honest, gut-level compassion.
Here’s what’s at stake for those of us doing non-profit work in the name of Jesus: if we are passionately opposed to the pain and suffering in the world, specifically in the anti-human trafficking movement and the kinds of sexually deviant acts being forced on the vulnerable, then we need to stand against the philosophy that opens the door to the very things we are fighting.
The Christian nonprofit sector must say with Paul, “I am not ashamed of the gospel (good news), because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).
As Christians, we believe in the value and dignity of every person. We fight and protect every person. But you can love someone, in fact you will love them with the best kind of love, when you love them without setting aside the truth. Our greatest hope is that every man, woman, and child would come to know the deep and wonderful love of Jesus Christ and the salvation He offers. And when it comes to discipleship, we are all called to bring every area of our lives under the authority of God. Everything.
So, it’s important for us to ask the question: What does it mean to be a gospel-centered organization today?
To answer this question, we have to examine what we truly believe about God and His Word. When the culture says something completely opposed to what the Bible says, who do we believe? Is God’s Word authoritative in our lives and our mission? Do we believe no one is more compassionate or wiser than God? Do we believe He knows what He’s talking about?
You can know what an organization truly believes by what they do. A drift from biblical justice to worldly justice will always result in worldly mindset creeping in and molding the organization into something culturally acceptable but spiritually compromised.
It takes courage to wrestle with your faith. It takes courage not to walk away when the rest of the world would applaud you for doing so. It takes courage to live your faith authentically, to love people enough to tell them the truth about Jesus—even at the risk of being ignored or rejected. Jesus never said it would be easy to love God most and love others no matter what. But again and again in Scripture, this is the life He calls us to. He is so good and so worthy of all our devotion. How will we respond?