A Picture of Legitimate Christian Resistance
Originally Published at LinkedIn on 8 Dec, 2016
As I proclaim, “we must obey God, not men,” my liberal cousin literally thinks I may just snap and blow up an abortion clinic. Until a couple of months ago, he just may have been correct. Then I read this book, it’s called the Bible.
Jesus calls the believer to meekness, humility, and gentleness. (Matthew 5) He, along with Peter and Paul, exhort the believer to assume a posture of submission. All three call believers to be in subjection to the governing authorities, without caveat or qualification. (Romans 13, 1 Peter 2, Matthew 22) It was abortion that challenged my spirit in this regard.
I looked at our government’s support of Planned Parenthood and I wondered, how could I pay taxes knowing they funded the slaughter of the innocent? I began to wonder how could I, as a government employee, accept their blood money as recompense. I began to wonder why men stood idle as our elected officials directed the bloodshed. At one point, I began to wonder why men weren’t taking up arms. No longer could I live in subjection to such wickedness.
Thankfully the Holy Spirit illuminated some truth to me.
The Bible provides a simple mandate for properly disobeying the appointed authorities. When government commands us to act contrary to God’s word, we must obey God not men.
Three biblical accounts highlight this principle.
The religious authorities drag Peter and the Apostles before the Council and order them to cease preaching Christ. They respond, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)
Exodus 1 records that the king of Egypt ordered the Jewish midwives to kill Jewish born sons in an attempt to quell Jewish population growth. The midwives “feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded.” (Exodus 1:17)
Daniel 4 records that Nebuchadnezzar ordered a golden idol made and then demanded that all bow and worship. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused the command choosing to worship only the LORD.
These accounts highlight what happens when government seeks to compel men to act contrary to the dictates of God. Yet, notice the nature of their response.
Notice what they did not do. The Jewish midwives did not stir the people in resistance. Peter and the Apostles did not organize a rebellion. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not incite the people against Nebuchadnezzar. No, their witness is in their response. They obeyed God rather than men and they accepted whatever consequences that may entail.
As promised, Nebuchadnezzar condemns the three to a horrific fate in the fiery furnace. They obeyed God, not men and accepted the consequences.
Following interrogation, the Council has Peter and the Apostles beaten ordering them once more not to preach Jesus. They not only accepted the consequences of their actions but “they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” (Acts 5:41)
They rejoiced at the consequences! That God would deem them worthy to suffer. Following this, “they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.” (v. 42) The consequences brought them joy. The consequences emboldened them.
This is why the message of the cross is so radical.
Jesus never challenged the Roman occupation with force as many desired. That would have entailed accepting Roman conceptions of power, the only question being who wielded it. But when He taught His disciples meekness and mercy, to turn the other cheek, to bless their enemies, to go the second mile, He rearranged the order of all things and posed an infinitely greater threat to the empire than armed revolution ever could.
In fact, after three centuries of Church expansion, the Roman empire was left with the singular option of legitimizing and co-opting the Church as even universal persecution had done little to arrest its advance.
By all means, get involved as a citizen. Vote, run for office, seek change and if necessary, protest but in a way that preserves your witness. Martin Luther King, Jr. exhorted the people to forever struggle “on the high plane of dignity and discipline.” He exhorted them, “We must not allow creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.”
True revolution happens in the hearts of men as they repent of their sin and turn to Christ Jesus in faith. This revolution is from God and can never be stopped. (Acts 5:39) It’s happening as we speak.
Despite official persecution, the Church flourishes across the Chinese underground posing an existential threat to the existing order minus any raising a single hand in defiance. In fact, China finds itself in a similar situation as Rome millennia earlier and has begun building state-sanctioned churches in a similarly desperate attempt to co-opt the Church.
In Africa, the Church abounds despite official persecution from regimes in places like South Sudan and Nigeria and the blood-thirsty opposition of Islamic groups like Boko Haram.
Similar revolutions are happening in South America and the Middle East, threatening the order infinitely more than the ill-timed meddling of men in the affairs of God and kings. Often the best remedy for a dying church is an oppressive government.
As for me, as long as my lungs draw breath, I’ll oppose abortion by any legitimate means. Yet, until government demands I disobey God, I’ll be in subjection and pay my taxes knowing that my greatest contribution to the revolution resides in calling men to faith in Christ. I pray that you’d likewise sheath your sword, either literal or figurative, and join the Church in storming the ramparts, the very gates of Hell. (Matthew 16:18)
Author - Founder
Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).
This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.
The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.
This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!
In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.