Is it possible to stand for justice…peacefully?
Can people on bicycles really claim to “make a stand for justice”? Shouldn’t we storm the brothels, blow stuff up Rambo-style, rescue the victims and take out the bad guys?
We’re riding bikes. In funny-looking helmets and colorful jerseys. Not exactly what we picture when John Wayne rides in to clean up the lawless town.
Recently I listened to a sermon in which the speaker claimed Jesus sometimes advocated or condoned violence. He pointed to Jesus’ cleansing of the temple as an example. At times, he said, Jesus’ righteous anger caused Him to physically assault those who violated God’s rules.
Respectfully, he’s misusing the text. Jesus used his whip to drive the animals from the temple, not to attack the money changers. He overturned their tables and scolded them for their dishonest behavior, not to harm them but to offer a path to repentance.
His purpose was to set things right.
Jesus interrupted injustice when He encountered it, but never by destroying the perpetrator. When others react to conflict with fight-or-flight, Jesus shines His light on a third option, a more difficult path toward reconciliation and justice.
It’s the difference between PEACEMAKING and peace-keeping. Peace-keepers maintain the absence of immediate violence through coercion or compromise. Peace-keepers will say or do anything, regardless of long-term consequences, simply to protect the status quo.
“From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain;Jer 6:13-14
prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit.
They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.
Jeremiah says peace-keeping puts a band-aid on a gaping wound to protect privilege and avoid dealing with root issues.
Peace-making is the active pursuit of long-term reconciliation that maintains central values. Peace-making refuses to compromise core principles and never relies on coercion or violence.
Jesus said, ” Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
I hope the FREEDOM TOUR stands for that kind of active peace-making, doing the hard work of seeking to set things right, in some small way, while following Jesus.
Dr. Cornel West said, “Justice is what love looks like in public.” Not passive, meek-and-mild love, but the love Jesus demonstrated when He stood up to evil, offered a way back, and refused to compromise.
Peace-making brought Jesus to the cross. Gotta keep that in mind.
“Follow Me” isn’t always convenient.