by pastor Jack
Why is it that churches hesitate to take to the streets to protest the eroding of their rights and freedoms? Are they unaware, unconcerned, unmotivated or unestablished enough to give their voice a platform? Romans 13:1 says “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established” but does this mean we have no voice as citizens apart from our vote?
Protests have become a common way of expression. The Black Lives Matter movement has rallied thousands. The First Nation Wet’suwet’en protest against pipelines raised the profile of hereditary chiefs. Via trains and work crews were halted. The Red Squirrel logging road extension had environmental protestors chaining themselves to equipment to protect old-growth pines. Marches for Freedom are becoming common.
This isn’t new. In 1990, the Canadian Army was called in to face down Mohawks in Oka, Quebec when the town tried to expand a golf course. The Mercer Bridge was blocked, an officer was killed and groups of rock throwers stood their ground until arrested. In Clayoquot Sound, BC, 700 people were arrested in 1993 during three months of protests over logging of old growth forest. Greenpeace brought in an Australian rock band to rally opponents and in 1995 the government adjusted their views on clearcutting practices. In Gustafsen Lake, that year, a medicine man helped calm an armed standoff with police even though numerous charges were laid in the dispute over sacred land.
Once upon a time, Martin Luther initiated a protest movement against the Emperor Charles V. The movement surged across Europe as it reclaimed the justice and righteousness of God. At the core was the truth that salvation came by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone according to the authority of the Scriptures alone and all for the glory of God alone. Reformers like John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, Philip Melancthon and John Knox may be names covered in the dust of history but they embraced a strong passion and belief in “Coram Deo” (that all of life was lived out in the presence of God).
Charles Colson and Ellen Vaugh, in their book Being the Body (pp 294-5), say “As Luther sought to reclaim Christian faith from cultural corruption, his work was less a radical new beginning than it was a re-formation in the truest sense of the term – a return to the essence of what the church had been in its noblest past. But the Reformation was more than a cleansing of ecclesiastical structures. Nothing was left untouched: the arts, commerce, government, and education all came under its powerful influence.”
Christians tend to focus on social justice issues or soul-winning without keeping the two thrusts together as we make disciples of Christ from all nations. The reformers worked hard to keep the church from being silenced by the authorities. They believed that the state was meant to fulfill a God-given responsibility of creating a culture and environment where family, church and government could flourish. Public officials were considered servants under God for the good of the people.
This shift in thinking led to reforms in England to the point that John Wesley, William Wilberforce, Lord Shaftesbury, Elizabeth Fry and numerous others fought for the abolition of the slave trade and the prevention of the exploitation of children and workers in mines and prisons.
During this time of isolation where our right to free assembly and full religious community expression have been curtailed are there new ways to express who we are; are there new ways to express community; are there new ways to make disciples for Christ from all nations? In a time of suppression, it is time for the family of God to consider this as an opportunity to break the mold and to make an impact that will ensure the voice of Christ is heard loud and clear in a land that desperately needs him. Perhaps there is someone in your social circle who needs the community we offer.
Let your voice be heard and remember that regardless of how isolated you feel, you are loved more than you could ask or imagine. Pastor Jack