Monday, August 5, 2013

Politics and Fighting Social Injustice

Jesus was not a politician. He did not use politics as a means to convert men to righteousness. He did not come to liberate men from "suffering". He did come however, to set men free, but not through politics. He came to relieve the oppressed, but not by using force to change the oppressors.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus asked the Pharisees, "Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?" (Mark 3:4) This He said, because the Jews had decided a little over one and a half centuries earlier that it was okay to "do evil" & to "kill" on the Sabbath day, that is, to "resist evil" using force: "And every man said to his neighbour: If we shall all do as our brethren have done, and not fight against the heathens for our lives, and our justifications: they will now quickly root us out of the earth. And they determined in that day, saying: Whosoever shall come up against us to fight on the sabbath day, we will fight against him: and we will not all die, as our brethren that were slain in the secret places." (1 Maccabees 2:40-41) [This quote was from the Authorized King James Version, but the "Maccabees 1 & 2" were taken out in 1885.]

All of this is said to give a minimal idea of how the Jews felt about "oppression" and "injustice"...that they were willing to give up the Sabbath to "do evil" and to "kill" because their powerful neighbors (the Romans and Greeks) knew of their laws pertaining to the Sabbath, as it says, "forthwith they (Israel's enemies) went out towards them, and made war against them on the sabbath day...(but Israel said) Let us all die in our innocency: and heaven and earth shall be witnesses for us, that you (Israel's enemies) put us to death wrongfully. So they gave them battle on the sabbath: and they were slain with their wives, and their children, and their cattle, to the number of a thousand persons." (1 Maccabees 2:32, 37-38)

Much like the majority of "Christians" in the early fourth century who survived the last persecution under emperor Diocletian (it was after these tragedies) that the Jews decided "enough is enough".

Jesus was born into a hate your enemy, eye for eye and tooth for tooth society. But what did Jesus have to say and what did He do about the tensions and oppressions "social injustices" existing while He was here?

"And whosoever will force thee one mile, go with him other two." (Matthew 5:41) Many use this verse to motivate others to "do more" for others without complaining about the difficulty (and it does imply that), but many of these opportunities we have to "do more" are under light circumstances (such as the instance of the Good Samaritan). But it is “said” that according to Roman Law, a Roman soldier could force a Jew to carry his bags one mile. That is oppression, unfair, social injustice! What did Jesus say and do?

Did He tell His disciples to go to college, get a degree, then apply to work for the government so that they could fight these injustices by means of politics and violence?

Did He have a religious council to decide if it was good or evil for the Jews to resist carrying the soldiers’ bag who compelled them by force to carry it?

Did He speak to them soft pampering words of sympathy then continue to speak idly about “How bad things are in the world?” Nay, but, “Whosoever will force thee one mile, go with him other two."

I met a young man “a cousin in law” yesterday who is a Roman Catholic (and I say Roman Catholic because there is one Catholic Church and that is no denomination, but is of those who do the will of God) and his plans were to go to school to study business administration and social something (I forgot the exact word), and he went on to talk about the injustices he has witnessed in the cities of California, and his intentions to use his learning and the authority his learning could provide to fight against them.

He is a well-meaning young man but is only “thinking as men think”. If he would have been there with the apostle Peter when Jesus was betrayed, he possibly would have cut off the other ear of Malchus (the high priests’ servant).

My cousin in-law told me that he was hearing “much” of what I was saying, but that it was still right to defend others. But this wisdom is the world’s wisdom and is void of the message of the cross that Jesus preached.

Did Jesus defend others? (Jesus did correct the religious leaders but He did not use politics or violence on any man) Here is the wisdom or counsel that Jesus would give every man in the below situations:

(Everyman) That man over there took off with my tools…

(Jesus) “Ask them not again”. (Luke 6:30)

(Everyman) Master, speak to my brother that he divide the inheritance with me.

(Jesus) “Man, who hath appointed me judge, or divider, over you? Take heed and beware of all covetousness; for a man's life doth not consist in the abundance of things which he possesseth.” (Luke 12:14-15)

(Everyman) Lord, how often shall my brother offend against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

(Jesus) “I say not to thee, till seven times; but till seventy times seven times.” (Matthew 18:22)

(Everyman) My wife left me.

(Jesus) Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if the wife shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery. No adulterer shall inherit the kingdom of God. Remain alone or wait to be reconciled. (Mark 10:11-12; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 7:11)

(Everyman) He punched me on the face!

(Jesus) Resist not evil…If one strike thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the other. (Matthew 5:38-39)

(Everyman) I am being sued!

(Jesus) If any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.

(Everyman) Those men blew up some of our stations and buildings!

(Jesus) Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you…For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? (Matthew 5:44, 46)

(Everyman) Those religion of that country and the atheists in the other are oppressing those who don’t agree with them. Shall we go to war to correct them?

(Jesus) Nay, but go teach all nations to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:20; 1 Timothy 6:1)

After reading this counsel from Jesus’ words does the Wisdom of God seem foolish to you? Think of it--they sought Jesus for "justice" and He gave them a cross. Jesus is the Wisdom of God. Does it seem unfair, unjust, unrighteous? He is the righteousness of God. There is a way that seems right to a man but it ends in death, and seeking justice “eye for eye & tooth for tooth” is "right" in that it comes out equal, but that is not the righteousness of Christ, nor the Wisdom of God. That provides no cure for evil, it only aggravates or at best, bridles the evil. The only cure for evil is overcoming evil with good, and instructing others on how to accomplish that by the foolishness of living and preaching the Gospel (the above counsel).

Those who seek to fight against social injustices do not produce Christians (free men) from their learning and labors, but rather deprives them of the truth which could set them free, and keeps them in the same slavery of resisting evil.

I told my cousin how I felt after one man pulled another man off of me when I was conversing with him about divorce and remarriage being adultery. I explained how God was robbed of being glorified by letting my light so shine before men through obeying the above words of Jesus. And how that man deprived me of the sweet fellowship with Jesus that I could have enjoyed from suffering with Jesus by means of a broken arm, bruises, or worse, while at the same time blessing the man inflicting these wounds, forgiving him, praying for him, returning evil with good, which possibly could have made him sorry. And how that those watching needed to see the Gospel preached and practiced…that they hear of much talk and see less action or even worse, “Christians” so-called, defending themselves!

I reasoned with him something like this “Think of the early Christians…their sacrifice, suffering love, patience, the tremendous joy they had, the power to cease from sin, and the good that has come into the world as the result of their responses to the social injustices, etc. What a tragedy it would have been if a person who fought against social injustice prevailed in preventing God from being glorified in their suffering love and deaths…this is what a couple of them said:

“And they (Peter & John) departed from the presence of the council (after having been beaten), rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.”  (Acts 5:41)

“What mean ye to weep and to break mine (Paul) heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”  (Acts 21:13)

“We…pray for our enemies, and endeavour to persuade those who hate us unjustly to live conformably to the good teachings of Christ, to the end that they may become partakers with us of the same joyful hope of a reward from God the ruler of all (Justin’s first apology, chapter 14)…

“Suffer me to become food for the wild beasts, through whose instrumentality it will be granted me to attain to God. I am the wheat of God, and let me be ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ. Rather entice the wild beasts, that they may become my tomb, and may leave nothing of my body; so that when I have fallen asleep [in death], I may be no trouble to anyone. Then shall I truly be a disciple of Christ, when the world shall not see so much as my body.” (Ignatius’ epistle to the Romans, chapter 4)

The slave is free while serving his master; the prisoner is content in the cell; the poor are happy in their poverty; the martyr has joy unspeakable and full of glory while enduring cruel sufferings and death.

To follow Jesus is to obey His counsel, commands, words, whatever you desire to call them. If an ill patient desires to get well from his sickness then he will follow his doctors’ counsel. If a man wants to re-build an engine he needs to follow the instructions. If a man is going to be a Christian then He follows Jesus’ teachings on how to be a Christian. If a man wants to fight against injustice he needs to not resist evil and preach what that means, as Jesus meant it to be understood. It could be said that injustice exist only those who are void of the love of Christ, because those who possess it are “free” from injustice.

1 comment:

“Reason dictates that persons who are truly noble and who love wisdom will honor and love only what is true. They will refuse to follow traditional viewpoints if those viewpoints are worthless...Instead, a person who genuinely loves truth must choose to do and speak what is true, even if he is threatened with death...I have not come to flatter you by this written petition, nor to impress you by my words. I have come to simply beg that you do not pass judgment until you have made an accurate and thorough investigation. Your investigation must be free of prejudice, hearsay, and any desire to please the superstitious crowds. As for us, we are convinced that you can inflict no lasting evil on us. We can only do it to ourselves by proving to be wicked people. You can kill us—but you cannot harm us.” From Justin Martyr's first apology 150 A.D. Martyred A.D. 160