A New Kind of Power:
Jesus is the most widely known activist in the world. His message to those in power is clear: domination over others is intolerable. This message, so compelling, has been inspiring countless followers through the New Testament for over twenty centuries. The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. embraced his beliefs in the face of water hoses, dogs, and jail in a racist south. Ultimately, his outspoken cries for freedom cost him his life.
Today, we are once again confronted with police suffocating, shooting and beating defenseless black men and women. It’s a modern form of crucifixion, without cause or purpose, except to instill fear to subjugate oppressed people.
What can we, Christians and non-Christians alike, continue to learn from Jesus’s life and teachings?
Jesus manifested a different form of power. His assessment of a situation was reflective and infused with a higher calling and spiritual values. His power to protest was both vertical, toward the heavens, and lateral in sharing his wisdom with others. Even though he struck out against the Moneychangers in the temple, this was not the essence of his power. History has taught us that brutality has no lasting power.
Consider that in Rome, at the time, the ideal male was a warrior and soldier, protected by weapons and armor. Much like police today who have been militarized by weapons, layers of battle fatigues, bulletproof vests, shields, and impenetrable masks. ‘Real men’ wear these as much for protection as symbols of power over others, as a form of intimidation. They uphold law and order, at any cost.
Jesus knew that practicing his beliefs would cost him his life, yet he persevered in his calling, refusing opportunities to escape. Not out of some wish to hurt himself, but out of his vision of greater humanity here on Earth.
Activism Begins with Enough!
Jesus said no to the money changers in the Temple; no to worship of the Roman Gods; no to the abuse of power; no to the Roman soldiers who imposed imperial ‘law and order’ on its citizens and no to being judged by the values of oppression.
He said yes to define reality in new ways, infusing it with moral truth and justice.
Crucifixion had been practiced by the Romans for roughly five hundred years; punishing slaves, disgraced soldiers Christians, and foreigners. Pontius Pilatus, governor, and Tiberius, emperor convicted him and sentenced him to death by crucifixion. President Trump would have supported emperor Tiberius, as would so many police departments support governor Pontius Pilatus.
Power for Jesus was dependent upon an individual’s achieving compassion for others, acceptance of differences, and responsibility to shape the world in more humane, and heartfelt ways. Power is openness to possibilities for freedom in practice, together.
Trump and those that would invoke the bible for photo-ops, or to mislead and hurt people are essentially anti-Christian — in light of the teachings of Jesus. This applies to his administration and police departments throughout the nation.
These same people may be upset to learn that Jesus wasn’t white, after all. His dark skin was depicted light in color to make white skinned people feel more comfortable; especially when church going has become a Sunday ritual for so many.
Let Us Know:
- What have you learned from Christ’s practices in the current situation of racism and protest?
- What’s your favorite bible story about protest and activism?
- How can you open up or lead a group discussion about the radical implications of Christ and his message at your church or place of worship?
- What kind of protest strategies can be developed from Dr. King and the teaching of Christ?
- What organizing should the Christian community be doing at the moment and how can you help this happen?
Check out this powerful video.