I see the Ravi Zachariases and Mark Driscolls and John MacArthurs of the world and know if these men were the summation of what I believed about the church, Christians, God, I would run as far as I can and never look back, except to glare. But then I avert my gaze and there’s another standing over and above them.
In some cases the powerful and oppressors even call themselves the victims and oppressed. These (mostly men) who claim to follow the God seen in Christ, unconcerned with holding political power or religious authority, whose mission was unattached to “success” (political or religious), who did not shy away from calling out powerful authorities (again, political or religious) and neither did he seek to leverage his divine nature to flatter or impress or gain a following. His trademarks were love, humility, compassion, honesty. His mission was of another world, he who asked us to rejoice in persecution if it occurs and to love our enemies, bless them, pray for them.
And more. Like Christ, in matters of injustice, harm, violation of the inherent human rights of others, we speak up for the oppressed, against the systems and structures of power, even when they are our own. We do not speak out in order to build ourselves a platform, nor in order to elevate our own names or ministries or churches.
Yes, far be it from me, my heart is just as easily swayed, my fruit also rotten. So I not only speak out against the powerful “others” but indict myself also. I too am guilty. I do what is right in my own eyes. Just as those I am quick to accuse.
Yet this does not exempt us from raising our voices against power and oppression and speaking up for the weak and oppressed. From leaving the 99 for the one. Especially within our own faith traditions and communities. Our responsibility is not absolved in the face of our own weakness. All of us are prophets. All of us are called to stand with survivors, victims, the wounded and downtrodden, naming first the injustice in our own hearts and then calling it out in the church and in the world. We are all guilty of injustice and at the same time still called to bring the guilt of injustice into the light.
In darkness the power and guilt of injustice grows wild, feral, ugly, demonic. In the light its power is mitigated, perhaps even destroyed. It thrives in darkness, is weakened in light. The light is painful, but it frees us, as well as the oppressed.
This kingdom is not for the powerful. It is for the weak, humble, meek, whose authority is rooted not only in speaking truth but as much or more so in courageous acts of love, compassion, justice. All we hold is to be surrendered, shared, given away. We speak out against the power that threatens to corrupt us, we speak up for those crushed by this power. And if we have been participant in this very power we now oppose, we allow ourselves to be brought down with it, always choosing the person over the power. Even when it means we “lose” or “fail,” this is our salvation. We submit to the light, whatever it overthrows, even if it includes ourselves, our ministries, our churches.
We on our thrones must be brought low, choose humility. We give up any claim to power and authority to be with, to be one of, the least of these. We don’t bow low in humility to receive power and authority, no, we do it for its own sake, as it reflects the way and heart and actions and words and life of Jesus. Not for reward, recognition, glory, or crown. No. Because it is right, the way of our Christ.
(originally posted on journeyofthefrases.com)
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