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Activist? Pacifist? Both?

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  ....Or neither?

Isn't it just amazing! That as christians. We have been some of the best and worst. When it comes to caring about injustice in the world! We seem to often take the attitude that as believers, we are suppose to "stay out" of the world's business (sufferings, goings ons, etc.). Such as the needs of the poor. Those being persecuted. Abuse and human trafficking (etc.).
 
Now, there are issues that we do get inolved in. But we have such a way of just, "picking and choosing" what we care about! While ignoring others. Such as those issues we may consider embarrassing, sensitive, or a graphic nature, etc.
 
From those believers in Europe, who ignored the holocaust. Many living right outside the gates of concentration camps! Seeing and hearing the unbelievable wicked (and atrocious) acts commited by the Nazi's. To the believers who have ignored domestic violence. Many living close (or next) to those abusing their wives, children and (or) family members. To those who ignored abortion when it was an initial issue in the courts. Not taking it seriously enough (and now look at it!)!
 
To those today who turn a "blind" eye" to human trafficking. And for anyone who may not be familar with this? It is the illegal (and morally detestable) practice of kidnapping and coercing women and children into sexual slavery. Being used until they become sick with aids, or other diseases. Or they are no longer able to be used. Then tossed out like someone's garbage! And many of the "custmers", of those who do such things? Are american men! And it goes on, not only overseas, but here in the USA also! Many of the victims too young to stand up for themselves!! Having unspeakable things done to them. So unpseakable, that they cannot be repeated in public!
 
It's enough to just make you sick!! ...Or it should be!!! Especially if you have the Spirit of Christ dwelling within you!
 
And to hear some of the stories of these women? Will just break your heart!
 
You see, we as christians should be standing up against this kind of wickedness. But often, we ignore it! And we ignore it just terribly!!
 
Now, the "flipside" to this, "turning a blind eye". Would be to use morally wrong ways of changing human injustice. Such as violence, or coercion. Such as bombing abortion clinics. Taking the attitude, of "two wrongs make a right" (etc.).
 
So what is the right way?
 
What are we to be? Pacifist? Activist? Both? or neither?
 
Well, let's look at what scripture says!
 
First and foremost of all, God adhors oppression:
 
 "Do not envy the oppressor,
      And choose none of his ways
        For the perverse person is an abomination to the LORD,
      But His secret counsel is with the upright."
 
               (Proverbs 3:31-32 NKJV)
 
In fact He warns against it:
 
 "Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless,
       The alien or the poor.
       Let none of you plan evil in his heart
       Against his brother.’

                (Zecharaiah 7:10 NKJV)
 
And He will render justice for those who have been mistreated:
 
 "He will bring justice to the poor of the people;
          He will save the children of the needy,
          And will break in pieces the oppressor."

                       (Psalm 72:4 NKJV)
 
The LORD executes righteousness
         And justice for all who are oppressed
 
                  (Psalm 103:6 NKJV)
 
 
LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble;
         You will prepare their heart;
         You will cause Your ear to hear,
    To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
         That the man of the earth may oppress no more.
 
                    (Psalm 10:17-18 NKJV)
 
So we know that God has no tolerance for those who commit such deplorable acts of wickedness! And He will render justice, for those who have suffered from such acts.
 
So if God adhors it, then what do you think should be our reaction?
 
Afterall, we do have the Spirit of the Lord dwelling with us:
 
 "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?"
 
                   (1 Corinthians 3:16 NKJV)
 
....Or we should! And if the Spirit is truly living within us? We cannot help, but be appalled and take notice!
 
Now what does scripture says about violence?
 
"The LORD tests the righteous,
          But the wicked and the one who loves  violence His soul hates."
 
                       (Psalm 11:5 NKJV)
 
So we know that violence is just not God's way!
And just what does that mean for us? We are called to be pacifists!!
 
What is a pacifist you may ask? One who practices pacifism. And let's look at what the Merriam-Webster dictionary says:
 
Pacifism -pac·i·fism -opposition to war or violence as a means of settling disputes; specifically : refusal to bear arms on moral or religious grounds.

And to clearly look into this. What did Jesus say on this subject?

   “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise."

                        (Luke 6:27-31 NKJV)

So we are taught by Jesus, that violence is just plain wrong! It is not acceptable!! .....And if your still not sure? Go back and read the Word again!

Afterall, remember? The Word of God is our guide:

  "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,"

                          (2 Timothy 3:16 NKJV)

Now, as many of us know (as believers), we are taught to love:

  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust."

                    (Matthew 5:43-45 NKJV)

There are NO exceptions to this! And it can be very difficult. Especially with many of the unbelievably wicked things, that people do in this world! But we must remember. This world is full of broken people. And we all are broken people in some way, or another. This world has been this way since the fall in the garden (Genesis 3). But we must still love. Just as Jesus calls us to do!

No matter how difficult it can be (and it certainly can be!). We must! Just as Stephen did, in the NT. Despite the fact that he was being killed:

  "While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep."

                           (Acts 7:59-60 NIV)

We must continue to love!

Now (just a "little" side step), what do you think God cares about more? Religious behavior?      ....Or people?

Let's look at what Isaiah the prophet said. Speaking by the Holy Spirit:

  “Cry aloud, spare not;
      Lift up your voice like a trumpet;
      Tell My people their transgression,
      And the house of Jacob their sins. 
       Yet they seek Me daily,
      And delight to know My ways,
      As a nation that did righteousness,
      And did not forsake the ordinance of their God.
      They ask of Me the ordinances of justice;
      They take delight in approaching God
       ‘ Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen?
      Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’


      “ In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure,
      And exploit all your laborers
       Indeed you fast for strife and debate,
      And to strike with the fist of wickedness.
      You will not fast as you do this day,
      To make your voice heard on high
       Is it a fast that I have chosen,
      A day for a man to afflict his soul?
      Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,
      And to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
      Would you call this a fast,
      And an acceptable day to the LORD
       “ Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
      To loose the bonds of wickedness,
      To undo the heavy burdens,
      To let the oppressed go free,
      And that you break every yoke
       Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
      And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
      When you see the naked, that you cover him,
      And not hide yourself from your own flesh
       Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
      Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
      And your righteousness shall go before you;
      The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. 
       Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
      You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.


      “ If you take away the yoke from your midst,
      The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness
        If you extend your soul to the hungry
      And satisfy the afflicted soul,
      Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
      And your darkness shall be as the noonday. 
        The LORD will guide you continually,
      And satisfy your soul in drought,
      And strengthen your bones;
      You shall be like a watered garden,
      And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. 

                      (Isaiah 58:1-11 NKJV)

You see, so many of us can get caught up, in "religious" activites. Forgetting that God is not concerned about, how "long" you can fast, or how "well". But He is concerned about us really living out our faith. Helping those around us. Just as James (the brother of Jesus) gave us an example:

  "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."

                         (James 1:27 NKJV)

And not simply, "voicing" our faith, but living it out! In truth (JN 4:24, 2 Tim. 3:16) .....and in love (1 Jn 3:11)!!

You see having a faith that is all "talk", and no action. Means nothing! It is nothing more, then dead faith!! And many (but certainly not all) believers have been doing this for years! And how effective has this been?    ....Exactly!

Nothing, but "dead" faith!! Just as James warned us about:

  "If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?"

                   (James 2:15-20 NKJV)

 And this has been the same problem with much of the christian world today! There has been so much talk, but very little action. But this is what we have been called too! Action!! So what do you think? Does He call us also to be "activists"? And just what is activism?

activsim -ac·tiv·ism -a doctrine or practice that emphasizes direct vigorous action especially in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue.

Now, some issues that we may need to be involved in (i.e. stand up against). May not necessarily be controversial. There are many things society would agree upon with us. That are morally wicked and corrupt. But no matter what issue it may be. There are times when God calls us to, "just stand up".

You see we have to put our "feet to the pavement". And we must stand up when it is neccessary. But so often we seem to have some really "off" ideas, of how we are to react (respond, etc.) on certain issues. Sometimes we are to be still and pray. But there are times when we must not only pray, but stand up and be counted (as led by the Lord)!

Just as Nehemiah did:

 "And I said to them, “According to our ability we have redeemed our Jewish brethren who were sold to the nations. Now indeed, will you even sell your brethren? Or should they be sold to us?”
Then they were silenced and found nothing to say.

                    (Nehemiah 5:8 NKJV)

You see we are called to be "activists" (in some way, or another)! Think about it!! Most all of us know that we are called to spread the gospel of Christ (Matthew 28:19-20). Now, that in itself is activism and pacifism at work!! Is it not? Of course! Afterall, we are spreading the (peaceful) message of salvation (John 3:16). Not by force (pacifism)! And we are going against the "grain" of society (activism)!!

Now, remember? God is righteous:

 "For the LORD is righteous,
          He loves righteousness;
          His countenance beholds the upright."

                      (Psalm 11:7 NKJV)

And if the Lord cares about those who are oppressed, mistreated and those in need. Are we not also called to care?

Afterall, we do (if we are really His followers) have His Spirit dwelling with us (1 Cor. 3:16). So we cannot help but care! Unless of course we are quenching His Spirit.....? Or we do not really have a grasp of what He is really all about!

So ask yourself! Are you an activist? Pacifist? Both? Or neither?

Afterall, by now you should have figured out, we are called to be both! No, "fence riding", will do here!! Not in the REAL Kingdom of the Lord!!

Think about it!!!

 

And here is some, "food for thought":

  "Learn to do good;
        Seek justice,
        Rebuke the oppressor;
        Defend the fatherless,
        Plead for the widow."

          (Isaiah 1:17 NKJV)

And:

  "Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’

                      (Matthew 25:34-45 NKJV)

Rev. John Heintzman
Evangelist Non-Denominational
POHOM
 
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POHOM Columbus, Ohio
 
 
 
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