Boycotting, From My Perspective

A few weeks ago, I posted the question(s):

What do you think about boycotting?  Is it something you have done, are doing, or would do in the future?  Do you think it’s actually effective, or not?  What is/are your motivations for doing it? 

First off, let me just say I’m sorry it’s taken me this long to post my views on the subject!  Things have been pretty chaotic here at work – people coming, people going, summer plans, etc – but I’ve finally found the time to sit down and write out my thoughts on the topic in a (hopefully) understandable way.

Let me begin by saying that I recognize boycotting is absolutely a personal choice of every individual.  I don’t believe it to be an issue with a “right” or “wrong” answer; every person has their own personal view, birthed out of their own theology, worldview, and personality.  That’s absolutely okay.  With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get to it:

Personally speaking, I don’t think I have ever consciously made the choice to boycott something.  That’s not because I’m against boycotting, it’s simply because up to this point in my life, I have never been forced to decide whether I should or should not boycott something.

As I’ve been considering what my stance on boycotting is and why, I’ve come to one major realization which has seriously impacted my viewpoint: oftentimes, it seems that boycotting can be a bit of a cop out.  That may ruffle some feathers, but let me explain what I mean by proposing a hypothetical scenario:

A major news outlet catches wind of the fact that a massive electronics retail chain known as Buy More has been producing 100% of their products in sweat shops manned by underpaid workers – including children – in southeast Asia.

Situations and stories like this are not uncommon (sadly), and it then becomes up to every individual to decide what action they will take.

Let’s say that some people are outraged and decide to boycott Buy More.  For the ensuing six months, they intentionally purchase electronics from other stores (who may or may not be using sweat shops in Asia).  Although Buy More’s business is somewhat hurt, it isn’t too severe and they live on as a company.

Here’s the cop out: I’ve seen this situation happen a number of times.  An individual decides to boycott a company based on their sense of ethics/morality, and so they abstain from spending money there.  Due to their boycott, they feel as if they are fulfilling their moral obligation, and their consciences are soothed.  But the reality is that there are still children and adults being severely underpaid and overworked in sweatshops in southeast Asia.  While the individual feels he/she has done their part, they aren’t actually bringing justice to the individuals being mistreated.

Urbandictionary.com (which is not a reputable source and which I do not recommend, but which gives the most straightforward definition I could find) defines “cop out” as: “An excuse designed to shirk responsibility; refers to taking the easy way out of a situation.”

That seems to fit our hypothetical situation quite well.  Individuals feel better, but they aren’t actually affecting much change.  In one sense, you could say that this is a form of “minimal selfish action” – doing the bare minimum that must be done to relieve their own personal discomfort.  It’s the same approach we take when we kill a mosquito that’s biting our arm; our genuine concern, deep down, is not so much helping those other people who are being mistreated; it’s making ourselves feel comfortable again.  We’re getting ourselves off the hook from genuinely helping others, but we’re we’re not actually being proactive at all.  If not done carefully, boycotting can be nothing more than a feel-good way to turn a blind eye to those individuals who are suffering from injustice.

Now that it seems like I’ve completely shot down boycotting and must be totally opposed to it, let me say this: History shows us that boycotting actually does work.  It doesn’t always work, but when enough determined individuals put pressure on a company or organization (and stop the cash flow to that company or organization), the company changes it’s policy.

Problem is, that doesn’t happen too often.

My conclusion is this: boycotting can be a good thing, but if it is done, it must be the bare minimum.  We ought to spend our time and money wisely, and to try not to perpetuate injustice.  But the Bible commands the Christian to “love your neighbor as yourself.”  If the roles were reversed, and we were the ones suffering from abuse and injustice, would we honestly be able to say of the people boycotting the companies we’re forced to work for, “At least they’ve done all they can”?

No.  We wouldn’t.

We aren’t actually loving, unless we’re doing absolutely everything we can.

It’s important to note that doing “everything we can” can take a million different shapes.  “Everything we can” varies incredibly depending on the gifts, talents, time, and finances of each individual.  But until we take the time to sit down and figure out what “everything we can”  really means for each one of us, we’re failing to love as Jesus commands us to.

What is “everything you can” do?

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Boycotting

This is a first for me, but I’m really quite curious.  I’m going to pose a question (or probably a few questions), and I’d love to hear the answers and opinions of anyone who may read this.

Here is the question(s):
What do you think about boycotting?  Is it something you have done, are doing, or would do in the future?  Do you think it’s actually effective, or not?  What is/are your motivations for doing it? 

Whether you’re for or against the whole idea of boycotting, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.  I’m working on forming my own personal opinion, and I think I’ve got it pretty much framed out, just in need of some fine tuning.

Please, chip in!

 

***EDIT/UPDATE***

Abby, thank you for your question – I should have thought to put up a definition of “boycott.”  I’ll use the definition from the Oxford dictionary:

Boycott:

verb

  • withdraw from commercial or social relations with (a country, organization, or person) as a punishment or protest: we will boycott all banks which take part in the loans scheme
  • refuse to buy or handle (goods) as a punishment or protest: an advert urges consumers to boycott the firm’s coffee
  • refuse to cooperate with or participate in (a policy or event): most parties indicated that they would boycott the election

 

Also, just to note: In a few days I’ll share my perspective on boycotting and the biblical principles that brought me to my conclusion.

Knowing God

“The psalmist was interested in truth and orthodoxy, in biblical teaching and theology, not as ends in themselves, but as means to the further ends of life life and godliness.  His ultimate concern was with the knowledge and service of the great God who truth he sought to understand.  And this must be our attitude too.  Our aim in studying the Godhead must be to know God himself better.  Our concern must be to enlarge our acquaintance, not simply with the doctrine of God’s attributes, but with the living God whose attributes they are.  As he is the subject of our study, and our helper in it, so he must himself be the end of it.  We must seek, in studying God, to be led to God.” – Knowing God, p. 22-23

J.I. Packer hits the nail on the head in the above paragraph.  So often we I am content with simply knowing about God and having good theology – that is not enough.  Knowing about God will not save me.  Perhaps even more importantly, knowing about God does not satisfy the deepest, most desperate parts of my soul.  Knowing about God will not transform me and make me more like Christ.  Knowing about God will not bring him the glory he deserves – only knowing him and savoring him in all his glory will do that.

We must be people who genuinely know God.  Be content with nothing less.

“The modern scientist has lost God amid the wonders of His world; we Christians are in real danger of losing God amid the wonders of His Word. We have almost forgotten that God is a Person and, as such, can be cultivated as any person can.” – A.W. Tozer, (The Pursuit of God)

“O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.” – A.W. Tozer, (Following Hard After God)

Grace and peace,
Bear

Napoli

Breathing is nice.  The past week has been so busy I haven’t felt like I’ve had time to even breathe, but it’s temporarily slowed down a bit, so I’m able to kick back and decompress a bit.

This past Thursday we left home at 6 a.m. and traveled to Naples, Italy for the Easter weekend.  After an 8 hour layover in Frankfurt, Germany, we got into our hotel in Naples at 1 a.m.  Long day.  Fortunately, we didn’t have much to do in Naples besides set up for our film shoot, so we got to take Friday and Saturday pretty easy.

Our whole reason for going to Naples was for a conference that some of our awesome partners at Generazione Senza Confini (or Generation Without Borders – http://www.generazionesenzaconfini.com/) were hosting.  Generazione Senza Confini is a movement in Naples that was started and is driven by young people who love Jesus and his church, and want to see the church in their area united, working and worshiping together.  They’ve got something like twenty-five local churches currently partnering together to see the Kingdom of God expanded, and it’s awesome to see their passion for their countrymen to come to know the Lord.

However, we weren’t there to have fun and relax – we were there to work.  While all of these young people were gathered in one place, we showed up to film their stories of how God has transformed their lives.  We filmed about a dozen stories over the weekend; each one unique, powerful, and a witness to God’s faithfulness.  As Christians around the world were celebrating Jesus’ resurrection from the grave on Sunday, we were privileged to be filming stories of how this risen, living Savior is still active and still changing lives today.  Here’s a behind-the-scenes look:

Although I can’t go into details, this young man’s life has been radically altered by the grace of God.  Now, as an Italian rapper, he uses his music as a tool for sharing the Truth with people.

Lastly, let me share a quick truth from James 1:

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.  For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.”  -James 1:22-24

Read that a few times, because it’s important.  What’s the natural reason you look at your face in a mirror?  To see what you look like.  If you walk away and immediately forget what you looked like…well, every second you spent looking into that mirror was ultimately a waste of time.

In the same way, every second you spend hearing God’s Word, studying God’s Word, or reading God’s Word is ultimately a waste of time – if you don’t do it.

Grace and peace,
Bear

Peter

Life in England is beginning to settle into a bit more a routine, which is nice.  I’m making some friends, starting to get involved in a church, and working hard.  All is well.

This past Sunday I heard a sermon on John 21.  John 21 is about Jesus’ appearing to the disciples post-resurrection.  Coincidentally (Note:  Coincidence is God incognito), the day before I had read Luke 5, which has to do with Jesus calling the disciples.  Both passages focus on Jesus and Simon Peter, and I’d like to highlight several similarities between the two, as well as one massively important difference.  I’ve included the passages at length for those of you would like to read them for yourself (a good habit to develop):

Luke 5:1-11 (ESV)

On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

Here, we have Peter and his partners – professional fishermen – fishing all night, and catching nothing.  Depressing night for them, to say the least.  When Jesus shows up with a crowd, they’ve just pulled in the boats and are cleaning up after a long and fruitless night of work.  They are probably tired, dirty, and just generally not feeling too hot about themselves.  But then Jesus just hops into Peter’s boat, and Peter agrees to let Jesus use his boat as a safe place to teach from.

After the teaching is complete, Jesus tells them to drop their nets one last time.  Peter was probably thinking Jesus was crazy at this point (sometimes that’s how God works, telling us to do things that appear crazy), but he obliges, drops the nets, and is blown away by the catch.

Look closely at his response: “But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’”  When Peter sees the catch of fish, he knows it is a miracle, and realizes that Jesus isn’t just some mere man (he’s just heard Jesus teaching the crowds as well).  He calls Jesus “Lord,” and sees himself as unworthy to be in his presence.  His observation was right, but his reaction was wrong (as we’ll see later).

John 21:1-13

After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish.

Remember, this takes place after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.  In John 18 Jesus is betrayed, and all his disciples flee.  Peter, just as Jesus said he would, ends up denying even knowing Jesus three times.

With Jesus being dead (supposedly), the disciples go back to their old way of life.  Peter and the boys go fishing again…and once again, fail to catch anything all night.  Peter’s got to be incredibly down in the dumps – not only has he failed his Lord, but he’s failed fishing, something he’s supposed to be good at.

But lo and behold, Jesus turns up once again, just like in Luke 5.  He tells them to cast their nets one more time, and, just like before, they come up with a miraculous catch.  Upon seeing it, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (aka John) recognizes the similarities to what happened before, and points out to Peter, “It is the Lord!”

What’s Peter’s response?  Throwing on his clothes (something I don’t understand…I realize he was stripped for work, but he was going swimming…maybe he didn’t want to appear before Jesus “au naturalé”), he dives overboard and heads straight to Jesus as fast as he can.

Now remember, same situation as before:  Peter is there, knowing he’s sinful, and he recognizes the Lord.  But the first time he responds, “Depart from me,” and the second time he responds by trucking straight for Jesus.

I believe that after spending three years with Jesus, Peter’s original worldview was challenged and transformed.  Initially his belief was that as a sinner, he couldn’t stand before God.  In one sense, that’s right.  On their own, sinners can’t stand before God.  But over his three years with Jesus, Peter got to hear what Jesus taught and see what Jesus did.  As he saw the way Jesus loved and cared for sinners, and heard Jesus say things like, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10) and “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick” (Luke 5:31), his whole worldview changed.

Originally, this was Peter:
Peter’s Observation:  This man (Jesus) is Lord, and I’m sinful.
Peter’s Reaction: One of us has got to go.  Sinful me can’t be in the Lord’s presence.

After personally getting to know Jesus, this was Peter:
Peter’s Observation: That is the Lord (Jesus), and I’m sinful.
Peter’s Reaction: I need to be near him.  Now.

There’s a lesson there for each one of us.

When we sin, our tendency is to run from the Lord.  We fear judgement, and our instinct is to hide.  But that response shows that we misunderstand Jesus.

When we sin the worst, we need Jesus the most.
When we want to run from Jesus, we need to run to Jesus. 

It’s not a natural reaction.  Peter had to learn it.  We need to learn it.  God, help us to understand.

Grace and peace,
Bear

Welcome to England

Hi from England!

It’s officially happened; I’ve moved across the pond and now live in the lovely midlands of England.  It’s funny though…so far, anytime any English person has heard I’ve moved to Stoke-on-Trent, their reaction has been shock.  Typically, their jaw drops, and that surprised look is quickly followed up by, “Why would you move to Stoke?!?”

Nevertheless, I think it’s actually lovely.  Way different from Chicago, and way different from south Florida, but beautiful in its own right.

I got in yesterday morning (Wednesday, the 14th).  I flew from Ft. Lauderdale to JFK to Amsterdam to Manchester, which made for a long day, but it went off without a hitch.  Those of you who were praying, thanks much.  I couldn’t have asked for a smoother trip.

But on to the much more important stuff:

An Italy Update

I don’t believe I’ve mentioned it before, but several weeks ago we received an email from a partner in Italy.  Here’s part of what it said:

As a result of the La Mia Storia books in January, the school board of the Marconi ‘s public high school in Catania, Sicily, decided to give our IFC representative  Francesco Romeo and his team the religion hour of each classroom (over 60 all together) entirely  for the whole week for a more detailed presentation of the book and plan of salvation as well as answer any questions the students may have!

This is an unprecedented opportunity! Never before in the school history in Italy the “hour of religion” was handed over to the evangelical church!!!
Seeing things like this happening, it’s clear that God is on the move.    An “unprecedented opportunity” – God is really working in an incredible way, and it’s such a blessing to be a part of what he is doing.  But that’s not all; we received a follow-up testimony today.
 
Essentially, our partner in the Sicily area has been going into the religious education classrooms and spending the hour having students read various chapter of the “La Mia Storia” books we produced, and then one of their reps would comment on the text, answer questions, etc.  Here’s what they had to say about how it has gone this past week:
For the first time, students were faced with the opportunity of  touching some key issues of their private life and give personal feedback in front of their class.  The surprise was that every student was verbal and open to discuss their issues and ready to hear how the gospel of Jesus could give them a new perspective.
One student in particular was known for being very arrogant and proud.  He had broken many girls’ hearts in the school.  In sharing how Jesus wants to renew us from the inside out, this student openly shared about his family problems and how his image was hiding a broken heart full of hurts and pains.    The rest of the class was so touched that several friends embraced him.
Francesco then shared that Jesus heals the broken hearted and boldly invited the entire class to turn their hearts to Jesus.
The classroom was turned into a chapel where the Spirit of God was at work!
That, my friends, is what it’s all about.  That is why I do what I do.  

Please, please, be in prayer for the youth of Italy.  Pray for more opportunities like the ones mentioned above. Pray for favor with school boards and the government and students.  Also, we’re currently filming for a similar program in the UK; pray that God would help us to do a great job, and that similar results would occur here.
Grace and peace,
Bear 

Bon Voyage

It’s my last day in the lovely ol’ USA!

It’s currently 11:20 AM on Tuesday the 12th, and I fly out at 12:23 PM tomorrow.  I should probably think about packing sometime soon, eh?

The past couple weeks have been a good close to my time in Florida.  I’ve made some swell friends and had a lot of fun, and I really feel like I’ve got a lot better handle on the overall picture of what I’ll be doing and the way things work with OneHope.  I realize there’s still a ton I’ll unavoidably need to learn on-the-job, but I think I’m ready for that.  I’m really trusting in 2 Timothy 3:16-17

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

The way I see it, if that’s true (which I am certain it is), I’ll work hard and study hard at the office all day, doing my best to learn all I can, but as long as I’m seeking God and immersing myself in his Word, he’ll see to it that I become wise and “complete, equipped for every good work.”

What did I choose to do with my last weekend in America, you may ask?

I’m glad you asked.

Friday night was pretty chill, just hung out with some friends and played cards and watched some Wallace and Gromit (flashback to the good old days!).  Saturday, I went to Target (where else!) and then spent some quality time at a massive park near here, walking around the swampy areas and enjoying God’s creation.  That was followed by a Chicago-style hot dog and some time at the beach.

But Sunday…oh Sunday.

Here’s the first bit:

Yes.  It’s true.  I went to the Cardinals-Nationals spring training game.  Pretty sweet – last year I went to a couple spring training games in Arizona, this year I got to go to one in Florida.  It was a perfect day, 85 and sunny.

And then the 4th inning happened:

Oh Florida.  Monsoon rain, ten minutes after it was perfect.

My partner-in-crime Mindy and I spent almost an hour crowded under one of the few roofs in the park with a couple thousand other people (we all became family, really quick).  But we kept our spirits up, made friends with a few Cardinals fans (highlight:  A 5-year old boy asking if I was a Cubs fan, to which I hastily replied, “No, but my entire family is.”  His response?  “Why would anyone be a Cubs fan?”  Love it!); and survived without getting totally soaked.

Ended the weekend by doing laundry (by the way, I’ve been using Fab laundry detergent-the spring breeze version-and I’ve actually been complimented on the way it smells…I highly recommend it!) and watching Cowboys vs. Aliens.

All in all, I’d say it was a pretty American sort of weekend.  Just what the doctor ordered.

Grace and peace,
Bear