We’ve talked about the need for Christians to be secure places for the outsiders to go, as well as affectionate people who care about more than their own safety and achievements. But security and affection only go so far. Jesus was about going the extra mile–literally! (Matthew 5:41)
To really be S.A.F.E. for the world–and even just each other–Christians must learn to stand up and fight.
Pity, compassion, empathy, these are all fine things. However, they become bad things once they turn into excuses, when we say, “Poor so-and-so,” and promptly check our “Christian” box for the day, then clock out. Imagine if Christ had said, “Oh, those poor people, damned forever,” and that was the end of the matter.
So, as Christ did not sit idly by, but rolled up his sleeves and went down into the Earth to snatch the keys of death and hell from the Devil with his own two hands–suffering and dying in the process–so, we, too must stand up for the oppressed and downtrodden, even at our own expense.
This can take countless forms, but I’ll try to name a few: intervening when someone is bullied, calling out hypocrisy or cruelty, speaking when it would make everyone more comfortable if you remained silent, calling things what they are rather than sugar coating it to be polite, asking your friends and family not to deride “those people” in your presence, and correcting your children when they do something wrong rather than being their friend.
Like I said, this is far from an exhaustive list, but the point is that we don’t just sit by and let evil be, in big forms or small, but we stand up and say, “That’s enough.”
I know, I know, I know. This vague idea of “fighting for the outsider” runs into a lot of quandaries. No one can fight every battle or stand with every cause. Broken systems can’t be fixed overnight–or by one person. True power is in the hands of the corrupt. We all have limitations. To this I say do what you can.
First of all, fight the little battles you see all around you, “little” as in refusing to go along with misogynistic jokes or badmouthing them dirty [insert race here]. Or perhaps campaigning for equality at your workplace. Little things. Second of all, find one or two big fights and fight them hard. It is said that we find our calling when we see what makes us laugh, cry, or pound the table. Focus on the latter two for this exercise: what in this world makes you scream with rage or sorrow?
Maybe how Flint, Michigan doesn’t have clean water. Maybe how the LGBT suicide rate is astronomical. Maybe it’s how police and corporations would rather attack peaceful Native American protesters rather than see them as people with needs of their own. Maybe it’s the deep web of sex trafficking. Find one fight that stirs your soul and fight it to the death.
For me, it’s religion, that legalistic spirit that suffocates Christianity from the inside and does far more damage than Muslims, Liberals, and Millennials. Jesus specifically targeted religious nonsense in his earthly ministry, and I feel compelled to fight with him, advocating for freedom rather than legalism. Hence this series, hence the blog itself–Fencing with Ink (or pixels, but you get the point).
What’s that you say? “It’s not my fight?” Find a fight and make it yours. Like I said, don’t stand on the sidelines when someone you care about is on the line. Remember, this whole thing stems from the A of S.A.F.E., which stands for Affection. And the S stands for Secure, which means they can come to you as a safe haven. Safe people are defenders.
Remember the wedding in Cana in John 2? Jesus and his family were invited to a wedding and the hosts ran out of wine, an embarrassing prospect that would cut the party short. Jesus said straight up that he shouldn’t be involved, but you know what? He turned water into wine anyway, the best wine of the night.
That was for a wedding. A simple celebration that had little impact on the world. How much more would Jesus involve himself for things that matter?
Being a Christian requires initiative. Injustice, corruption, cruelty, all these things should spark a fire in us that just make us want to punch something or cry uncontrollably. Channel this passion into a proper fight. Study the enemy, learn their tactics, and learn what weapons to use against them.
And if nothing stirs your soul…well, to use an antiquated phrase, “Y’all need Jesus!”
“But, Mike, what about fighting for unChristian things?” It’s true we have a moral obligation not to side with the world on certain issues. When a rapists asks me to sign a petition protecting his sexual needs, I’d rather fight against him than with him. However, it’s actually quite Christian to fight for many unChristian issues, or at least not fight against them. Strange, I know, but hear me out.
Many issues of the day seem like attacks on Christianity. Gay marriage–but God says it’s between a man and woman! Prostitution–but God says sex is between husband and wife! Rape culture–but she shouldn’t dress like that! Muslim registration–they’re terrorists!
Listen: most of these issues Christians are fighting against are actually national issues, not Christians issues. Yes, there is a difference.
I implore you, I beg you, in the name of Jesus Christ I compel you, stop doing what is good for American Christianity and do what is good for personal Christianity. As much as I love my country, and yes, while I can see the Christianity motivating the founding fathers, we are not a theocracy. Christianity was never meant to run on a theocracy. It’s a personal and individual, yet global faith. There cannot be an us-versus-them mentality which always comes when you line up your beliefs with a country.
The point? Fighting against these issues does nothing for Christianity. It doesn’t make our “opponents” more Christian any more taking a bath cures cancer. What does help Christianity is fighting for people, proving that you see their basic humanity. This is attractive to the outside world.
Yes, we may be making it easier, more comfortable for sinful lives to be led, but that’s a little closer to Jesus’s definition of Christianity. Our lives are hard, not theirs. We willingly give up comfort for goodness. And again, fighting to keep non-Christian uncomfortable won’t make them want to be Christians, so what good are we actually doing?
What may be bad for us as a Christian nation may be good for us as a Christian people. Always fight for people. You can’t fight every single fight, nor should you in some cases, but you should always, always, always fight for a person’s humanity, the fact that God created them and he loves them dearly. God didn’t wait until the adulteress became a Christian to fight for her life (John 8:2-11).
Fight for the humanity of every person.
NEXT TIME: E for Everyone