How do we respond to the George Floyd’s suffering? Here’s a message from a martyr.
It’s 2020, and a black man’s life is cut short by a policeman’s knee. I understand the outrage. What I don’t understand is why this is unexpected. Continue reading “Joining Jesus’ fight against evil”
Why does the New Testament accept slavery, when treating another person as property is inhuman?
Ephesians 6 5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. (NIV)
Why require slaves to live in a way that falls far short of the kingdom of God, a society where everyone treats each other the way God treats us in Christ? Ultimately, injustice must yield to Christ’s reign, so why doesn’t the New Testament call us to speak out against institutionalized systemic injustice?
In the big arc of the Bible’s narrative, slavery is wrong. The Bible begins with humans equal under God (Genesis 1:26-27), and the first time slavery appears it’s labelled as a curse (Genesis 9:25). The Bible concludes with the powers of evil falling, when avarice ceases and no longer are “human beings sold as slaves” (Revelation 18:13).
So why doesn’t the New Testament call God’s people to condemn slavery? The tough questions are our friends, friends that challenge and reshape our understanding.
Let’s see if we can make sense of what Paul’s saying by examining what he did. Continue reading “Why doesn’t the Bible condemn slavery? (Ephesians 6:5-9)”
What kind of activism are we called to? Confronting the powers of evil, or being the community of a different king?
Christian activists have usually raised a voice for peaceful protest. Fifty years after Martin Luther King called for nonviolent resistance against systemic injustice, we still hear his voice.
Walter Wink called Christians to expose the evil that is endemic in the power systems of this world. He called us to name evil for what it is, to unmask its insidious nature, to engage it through non-violent confrontation. Even in the titles of his books, you can hear him calling the church to stand against corruption: Naming the Powers (1984), Unmasking the Powers (1986), Engaging the Powers (1992), When the Powers Fall (1998), The Powers that Be (1999). A choir of other of voices also call us to non-violent resistance: John Howard Yoder, Stanley Hauerwas, Shane Claiborne, Jarrod McKenna, and so on.
Are they right? Is power the problem we must address? Is that our task, to stand against the injustice that’s systemic in the way the world is run? To those questions, I want to answer Yes and No. Their diagnosis of the problem is spot on, but their response doesn’t resolve the problem.
Continue reading “Activism: confronting the powers”
Jesus was an activist. But what did he target?
Openly denouncing Pharisees. Eating meals with prostitutes. Overturning the temple. Jesus was disturbingly confronting to the social structures of his day. Gentle Jesus, meek and mild? Not so much. Jesus cannot be tamed. Continue reading “Jesus the activist”
Should Christians be activists?
Good news! Jesus is the Christ. That means he’s chosen by heaven and anointed with power to rule the earth. He is restoring heaven’s government to a world that has been terrorized by competing claims and civil war ever since humans tried to take God’s power into their own hands.
This is good news for the world because it’s how the violent hostilities are replaced by divine peace. Peace can never be achieved through force. The cross is the ultimate paradox for solving violence. The all-powerful God placed himself at the centre of the battle for power, giving himself for his people, reconciling us to himself and to one another.
This is how hostilities end. The cross is God confronting human power claims. It’s how God restores peace, by uniting us under his governance (Ephesians 2:14-17).
What does that mean for earthly kingdoms?
Continue reading “Activism: is it kingdom work?”
Social justice isn’t an angry fist; it’s a cross, bearing the injustice away.
Imagine a world without gender conflict, where males and females value each other as persons. Imagine a world where no one no one dies of preventable diseases, where no one starves while others horde wealth. Imagine a world without racism or slavery or war, a world where no leader forces themselves on people. Imagine a world where people shun violence and retribution, calling on God to bring justice instead.
Lofty ideals? It’s our future. This is the world we will know when it runs as our heavenly sovereign intends — as the kingdom of God. The big question is how do we get there?
Continue reading “God’s kingdom and social justice”