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Freedom: Not Just Another Word for Nothing left To Lose.

Freedom: Not Just Another Word for Nothing left To Lose.

The word ‘evangelism’ tends to evoke one of two responses: some view this in purely spiritual terms, with specific beliefs and ideas. Belief in the written Word, together with faith in Christ, are promoted as the only requirements for salvation and eternal life. Any earthly salvation that may be needed is largely ignored. 

Conversely, salvation can be seen only in terms of social justice, where unjust systems are challenged so as to bring about justice, peace and equity. Any need for spiritual rescue, or for consideration of eternal realities can be overlooked. 

We live in a world where both rescues are needed; along with committed, humble people to proclaim it in ways that are life-giving, welcoming and practical. We must recognise that we cannot save ourselves, and that we need God’s Word in Christ to empower, direct and transform us. We are called to become partners with God and to challenge and confront unjust human systems as we work for positive change in the world. All people are loved equally by God, and made in God’s image as eternal creatures whom God longs to bring into loving, healing relationship with God’s self. 

Today’s Genesis passage speaks of human trafficking, still an insidious social problem today. Recent UN figures estimate up to 30 million people worldwide are caught up in the slave trade, an industry that reaches most countries on earth, even Australia. 

A slave is defined as someone who is forced to work through mental or physical threat; is owned or controlled by an ’employer’, usually through mental or physical abuse or the threat of abuse; is dehumanised, treated as a commodity or bought and sold as ‘property’; is physically constrained or has restrictions placed on his/her freedom of movement.

amnestySlaves are typically found in construction trades, domestic or nanny industry, farm work/agriculture, labouring/manufacturing, cleaning services, health care/care giving, forced marriages, hospitality/food services, retail, beauty therapy services as well as sex services.

If we are to participate in God’s saving work, then we need to be both people of faith and courage, as well as people of practical, liberating action extending God’s grace and love in ways that make a difference. For it is Christ who must ultimately be the Saviour: not Christians or the Church or authorities. Christ can choose to do this work in any way Christ chooses, and through any means.

 

Acknowledgements: 

Van De Laar, John, Reflection for Pentecost 9A, 10/8/2014, http://sacredise.com/lectionary/2014/07/proper-14a-ordinary-19a-pentecost-8a/ 

Contemporary Slavery, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contemporary_slavery 

Anti Slavery Australia http://www.antislavery.org.au/home/face-of-slavery-in-australia.html 

Anti Slavery http://www.antislavery.org/english/slavery_today/what_is_modern_slavery.aspx 

 

Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28   

371Jacob settled in the land where his father had lived as an alien, the land of Canaan. 2This is the story of the family of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers; he was a helper to the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. 3Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves. 4But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.

Joseph Is Sold by His Brothers

12 Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem. 13And Israel said to Joseph, ‘Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.’ He answered, ‘Here I am.’ 14So he said to him, ‘Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock; and bring word back to me.’ So he sent him from the valley of Hebron.

He came to Shechem, 15and a man found him wandering in the fields; the man asked him, ‘What are you seeking?’ 16‘I am seeking my brothers,’ he said; ‘tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.’ 17The man said, ‘They have gone away, for I heard them say, “Let us go to Dothan.” ’ So Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan. 18They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him. 19They said to one another, ‘Here comes this dreamer. 20Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.’ 21But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying, ‘Let us not take his life.’ 22Reuben said to them, ‘Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him’—that he might rescue him out of their hand and restore him to his father. 23So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore; 24and they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

25 Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. 26Then Judah said to his brothers, ‘What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.’ And his brothers agreed. 28When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.