Remember the Kool-Aid Man? In the old commercials for the soft drink he was promoting, he would arrive on the scene at just the right time (often crashing through a wall), with his trademark, “Oh, yeah!”.
In today’s world, solving problems by creating massive property damage tends to be frowned upon. In some ways, this has gone the way of the coyote-shaped holes in the side of cliffs (from the old Looney Toons clips). However, we still have opportunities to be like the Kool-Aid Man in one key respect: we can come to the aid of others.
Helping others out doesn’t always mean swooping in with refreshing beverages to help those in thirst (although that’s ok, too – see Matthew 10:42). Sometimes, the right thing to do is to be an advocate for other people. That’s perhaps not a term that we use a lot, but it just means to speak up in someone else’s defense.
Here, we have a perfect example, since Jesus is our Advocate.
My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.
1 John 2:1-2 NLT
When our enemy, Satan the Accuser, brings up all of the reasons that we’re not worthy, Jesus can step in and claim us as His own people, for whom He already sacrificed His life, having bought us back from the death penalty of our sins. There’s nothing in the universe that can refute that claim for those who belong to Jesus.
Since we aren’t both God and human like Jesus (hint: we’re just human, and definitely not gods), our advocating for others will look a little different.
Sometimes, our intercession (another fancy word we don’t use much) is to pray on others’ behalf. Are there those in your own life who need God’s help? You can ask for God’s intervention – on their behalf – in areas like the following:
- A crisis of faith (Luke 22:31-32)
- Salvation and a life of following Jesus (Acts 26:28-29)
- Rescue (Acts 12:5)
- Maturity (2 Corinthians 13:9)
- Healing (Acts 28:7-8)
- That they would have joy and peace (Romans 15:13)
- Forgiveness (Job 42:8)
- A struggle or heartfelt request (Genesis 25:21)
- Conflicts (John 17:20-21)
- Wisdom (Colossians 1:9)
- Success in service (Acts 6:6)
- The ability to share good news (Ephesians 6:19)
- Peace (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
- …and many more
In other cases, we will need to engage with other people, directly. God is all-powerful, and asking for His help is wise. However, He often chooses to use us as part of His plan, to make a difference in the lives of people He loves.
At times, we have the opportunity to work with those in need, or those who are hurting. These opportunities can be easy to miss, and it’s even easier to make excuses to skip over them as we do spot them. However (while this is not necessarily being an advocate, exactly), we can still offer help and hope. And, in talking with those who have been marginalized, hurt, or ignored by others, we may find opportunities to be an advocate for them.
- Often, just sitting down with the isolated and lonely is a loving act. Whether we sit in silence, or just listen, we can offer a little bit of healing – especially if we are willing to make a long-term investment in someone going through a rough time (see 2 Corinthians 1:3-7).
- Specifically, we are called to take care of orphans and widows (James 1:27). While some governments and organizations offer help, that’s no excuse for us to not get directly involved, as well.
- …and, there are many more examples – just look around in the corners of your world, where “socially invisible” people sit and avert their eyes from passers-by.
Finally, when we understand that a fellow person is being attacked, unfairly treated, or not being well represented, we can step in and be an advocate on their behalf with others.
- Maybe someone else is being insulted and abused because they are different. Whether or not you share the quality for which this person is being attacked (their appearance, their heritage, their faith, or anything else), you have the opportunity to step up and say something. Yes, there’s a risk that you’ll find yourself on the receiving end of the mockers, but a single ally can make a big difference (see Ecclesiastes 4:12).
- In the extreme case, it may be necessary to protect another person from physical harm. Not all of us are intimidating enough to drive away attackers (and I’m not promoting physical violence as a solution to most problems), but most of us can call for help. Or, we may simply need to share the address and phone number of a local shelter with someone who is being abused.
- Some states even have a formal Guardian Advocate program, where individuals can step in and provide representation (not as a lawyer, although good lawyers are advocates, as well) for developmentally-disabled adults who need some help getting a fair shake.
I don’t want to prescribe a specific activity or program for you to follow. These examples are provided just to give us all – myself included – some reminders of where an opportunity to be an advocate may surface. That way, we’re ready to come to the aid of others, just as Jesus defends us on a daily basis.
As God puts opportunities for advocacy in front of you, it would be great if you could share them in the comments below. May we all celebrate His divine provision, and how He is using us to show His love to all people.