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Meekness is not weakness

From Campus Direct comes a story that is so right on many counts.

Authorities in Indonesia have been harassing Christians for the last several decades that radical Islam has been in ascendency. In some provinces this has been in the form of blood persecution, but by and large it has come in more “subtle” ways, like the burning down of churches, or simply the tying up of church permits in unending red tape.

Considering that over 85% of Indonesia is Muslim, it takes guts to be a Christian there, and even more to stand up for one’s rights. But that is just what some Christians there are doing. When authorities tried to shutter a church whose approval they have stonewalled for six years, the Christians rose up and chased them off. One of them was a courageous lawyer who knew his rights and was not afraid to exercise them. As a result, the church building ended up being guarded by police and military until the issues are resolved. And meanwhile, church services continue apace.

There can be a fine line sometimes between standing up for what’s right and using the flesh to fight spiritual battles, but there is a line. The church in the West has erred too much toward passivity. Like the frog in the kettle, we’ve found it easier to relax and go with the toxic flow of the culture instead of raising a fuss. Did we think popularity would be sweet?

That’s not what Jesus did. His life was one of continually confronting the status quo that suppressed knowledge of God. He never ran from it, and He never compromised truth in order to keep the peace or be popular. And when the occasion was right, He didn’t shrink back from engaging in a verbal brawl (the “seven woes” on the Pharisees in Mt 23) or even using actual physical force (the cleansing of the temple).

It’s a paradox that the same Jesus who stood up to the Pharisees and money-changers then went to the Cross willingly. But Jesus knew the Father intimately and heard His directions perfectly, and was right in every case. Some have said, “well, that was Jesus. He could do that, but we have no right to”. It’s time to call hogwash. Jesus is our perfect model and did nothing that He did not want us to emulate.

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. – Jn 14:12

We’ve been told to speak the truth in love and to expose the works of darkness (Eph 5), but too often we’ve taken the easy way out, bringing spiritual weakness upon ourselves. We need to remove self-made theological restraints and get to a place where we also can discern the Father’s will in every situation. We need to embrace a renewed theology of wholeness and Christlikeness, whereby not all assertiveness and use of force is bad.

With all the horrendous abuse of Christians taking place in the world (like 500 mostly women, children and infants hacked to death in Nigeria Wednesday, by men seeking to glorify their own god), bravo to our brothers for fighting back in the antagonistic land of Indonesia. Keep it clean, bring honor to God, but don’t be afraid to stand up for what is right.

I had a pastor once who used to say, “meekness is not weakness”. He was right, and his words are timely.

Addendum: Christians in Nigeria are also rising up, mounting a principled protest against the horrific slaughter, exposing evil – just as we have been told to do:

Nigerian Women Carry Bibles, Protest Massacre

Thousands of Nigerian women dressed in black and carrying Bibles, wooden crosses, pictures of victims, and branches symbolizing peace marched in a central Nigerian state on Thursday to protest the massacre of about 500 villagers, who were mostly women and children.

The women, some with babies strapped on their back, walked from the headquarters of the Evangelical Church of West Africa in the city of Jos to the Plateau State House of Assembly calling for greater investigation into the mass murder of hundreds of people in two predominantly Christian villages near Jos…

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