Trafficking in persons (TIP) is an international crime that involves the acquisition of a human being through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of exploiting the individual for profit through forced labor or prostitution. A modern form of slavery, trafficking constitutes a violation of human rights in which individual victims are deprived of their humanity and basic freedom. TIP can involve either sex or labor exploitation, or both.
Human traffickers earn an estimated $32 billion annually in profits, just under the amount earned through arms and narcotics trafficking. People are enslaved in circumstances of sex and/or labor exploitation, in the majority of countries around the world, including the United States . . . according to the most recent International Labor Organization figures, the number of people enslaved in sex or labor exploitation is approximately 20.9 million.
If ever there were a form of injustice that angered our Creator, this would be it. Exploiting the weak and powerless is bad enough. Doing so for financial gain is worse. Forcing them into the sex trade propels the offense through the ceiling. That we have more human slaves now than any other time in history is simply unacceptable. Thankfully, Christians on various fronts are taking up the call to combat this widespread and horribly oppressive injustice.
Recently I heard a radio interview with singer Natalie Grant as she talked about her involvement in combating TIP, the content of which compelled me to refocus my attention. Grant has done such excellent work in this area that President Obama invited her to a reception focusing on the eradication of this atrocious evil.
What caught my attention, however, was not her discussion about President Obama’s invitation, but rather about the onslaught of criticism she received from the conservative Christian community because she met with a President whom many believe to be a contemporary expression of the anti-Christ. How far we have fallen from the heart of God that our anger toward our Commander In Chief would supersede our love for those caught in the vice of human trafficking!
Herein lies the second of the four political traps highlighted in this blog series—a hardening of the heart. Hardness of heart is an issue that receives little attention in the Christian community in spite of its huge importance. Our Lord Himself spoke of the danger of a hardened heart in the last days.
Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be delivered. Matthew 24:12-13 (HCSB)
Our political landscape is now lawless in so many ways. Whether through the avenues of talk shows, campaign speeches, or political ads, politics on every level can be characterized as vitriolic—bitterly abusive and caustic. It is to our shame that we have been sucked into the political trap of disregarding the heart of New Testament teaching in the name of Christian values. (Where are the days when Bible believing Christians obeyed the Scriptures by respecting a Head of State for his office, regardless of his character or platform? (1 Peter 2:13-17))
Our immersion in the vitriol of today’s politics reveals that we fail to grasp the extreme danger of a hardened heart.
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. Ephesians 4:17-18 (ESV)
The effects of the hardening of the heart can be likened to the formation of cataracts over the lens of the eye. The process is so subtle and so deceptive that a person rarely realizes it is happening until one day the entire world is dark and blurry. In a similar vein, the gradual, layer after layer hardening of a person’s heart–for whatever reason–leads to spiritual blindness resulting in an ignorance of God’s ways. Immersed in the hostile clash of human politics, we begin to lose sight of His preeminent kingdom on the horizon. Rather than walking in love and living by faith, we become increasingly frustrated and angered by the lawless world of politics.
I do not suggest that we as Christians passively withdraw from the political arena. The right and privilege to influence the direction of our nation is not something to ignore. We must, however, be vigilant to both guard our own hearts, and to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ not to allow their love to grow cold in these last days. Contending for righteousness in the name of Christ is not sufficient—our lives must also be characterized by the ever-loving heart of Christ.