Today, I would like to re-tell the tale of the speck and the plank. If you have ever been in Sunday school you have heard it many times. The story comes out of Matthew 7. I'll summarize it for you now. There are two men. Each have a foreign object in their eye. The first man throws a fit about the other guy's eye problem and is trying to fix it for him. Jesus then says at the end of the story that it is hypocritical to try and fix the other person's problem without addressing the issue with your own eye.
Why in the world am I telling you this? Well, here is the rough part. Rough, but real. Happening now. Before I go further, here are some things I think you should know:
* More than 2 million children are exploited by sex trafficking each year
* On the planet today 27 million people are slaves.
* 1 in 5 women today are victims of rape or attempted rape
* 1 in 3 women today have been beaten or violently abused in some way.
* The market value of the sex trade is estimated at over $32 billion dollars.
* If you adjust the price of a slave in the 1850s it would be $40,000 in today's money. Right now in the world the average slave costs $90.
* Many slaves are "paid" only enough rice to keep them alive and able to work.
* Due to all of the advances in today's technology, transportation and international relationships people are much easier to exploit. It is easier to gain access to the poor and vulnerable, making people more 'disposable'.
The roots of these injustices are control and an overall belief that another human doesn't hold the same value...pride at it's grandest.
These facts enrage me. I want to walk into a brothel and declare their freedom. Find the lonely child making bricks and carry him away. We were made to execute justice. Part of the Church's calling is to right that which is wrong. To bring order to God's earth.
So, why the Sunday School lesson at the beginning? Well, if we are going to be effective at winning this battle with injustice we better get our planks & specks out. Sure, we don't have slaves. We aren't engaging in sexual exploitation...I have never beaten anyone & most of you haven't either.
But, I have snubbed my nose at the homeless person annoying me with their requests for money. I have gossiped and said things which abused the emotions of others. I have controlled people through manipulated words.
Control, abuse, thinking I am better than the poor... Perhaps I am a slaveholder in my own right? Perhaps you are too? It seems like much easier offenses to overlook. But they are the same root problems. Yes, its big scale vs small scale. A speck vs. a plank.
The passage ends with these words "You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." As followers of Jesus, we need to address the "planks" and injust actions of others. Millions of people's lives are counting on our action.
But, it isn't only signing petitions, giving money, and serving in various capacities. We have to fight this war. According to this passage, the key to doing so effectively lies in getting rid of the enemy's desception in our own lives.
Injustice must stop. Slaves must be freed and the broken are destined to be made whole. That is how Jesus works. Lets do it with Matthew 7 strategy. Let's remove the speck from our brother's eye but only after tending to our own. Love people today. It's part of the battle. An Epic Battle.