December 29, 2016

On Living a Life of Protest

When I was in high school, I watched a Danny Glover movie called "Freedom Song." Set in Mississippi before the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, it gave my 17 year-old self a powerful (if not slightly naive') look into the Civil Rights movement, planting the seed that would eventually grow into my flight toward my current life.

There is one scene in particular where the activists decided that they would forego their usual drugstore sit-in for a different kind of protest. Person after person, both black and white, knelt one at a time on the steps of City Hall, praying The Lord's Prayer. I remember weeping as I watched this and heard "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven." I recited The Lord's Prayer every day at school when I was a kid, but this was the first time I had ever connected a fight against injustice as God's Kingdom coming to earth-- the first time I was emotionally affected by the fact that such injustice very much still exists today.

These sorts of protest have always tugged at me. This idea of taking a stand in order to scatter little shards that reflect the Kingdom coming. There is something about this beautiful, hard resistance toward unrighteousness that I can't tear my spirit away from.

I've been silently watching the world of protest over the last six months or so. People being labeled as rebellious, whiners, and criminals. People being brutalized and threatened and hated. Truly, that's the life of a protester. It's the life of a social disrupter. What really astounds me, though, is how often the people disparaging protesters are people who claim to follow Christ.

I don't feel like it should be necessary to remind anyone that Jesus was one of the greatest social disrupters in history, but here we are.

He touched the untouchable.
He crossed racial and cultural lines.
He healed on the sabbath.
He wasn't concerned with his social standing.
He opposed the ruling religious system.
He held His arms wide to the outcast, to women, to children, to the poor, to  the forgotten and judged.

 He might not have stood in any picket lines or chained himself to any wrecking balls. He might not have made clever signs or organized public protests. But He lived protest, and He died protest, and if we say we want to follow Him, not only is this the Jesus we come to... this is the life we sign up for.

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