Cultivating the Activist Heart of Jesus

lightstock_176325_jpg_john

I’m sorry to break it to you, Internet trolls—but Jesus was a social justice warrior.

He could also probably come across as a real jerk sometimes, too.

Most Christians paint in their minds a highly selective picture of Christ, one that usually makes him a placid, stoic, passive presence; little more than a silent and smiling spectator who was above all things perpetually—nice. We like this tame, well-mannered, benign Jesus. We especially prefer this version of him when we don’t like what we’re hearing from other Christians. The moment anyone claiming faith becomes the least bit loud or unruly or uncomfortable, we suggest that they are somehow betraying their namesake. We try and shame them into behaving themselves.

“I can’t believe you call yourself and Christian and…”

The implication is that if you’re angry or offensive or abrasive, then you aren’t accurately reflecting Jesus.

Bull.

Jesus was not a pacifist, he was a peacemaker, and these are very different things. One implies inaction—the other, intentional engagement. At the center of Jesus’ life and ministry was the idea of making peace, of creating Shalom for another human being; enabling them to have the same access to wholeness, sustenance, justice, and joy as anyone else. It was not merely some internal understanding about the intrinsic value of all people he held in his heart, but the tangible response in the world that affirmed this understanding whenever that value was disregarded.

Jesus was an activist in a myriad of ways:

When he turned the tables over and drove the money lenders out of the temple.
When he claimed God to be sovereign and solely worthy of worship, in a culture that declared Caesar was.
When he touched the hand of a leper instead of expelling him for his moral filth.
When he publicly called the powerful religious elite a “brood of vipers”.
When he healed on the Sabbath when work was forbidden.
When he spoke to a Samaritan woman in public in the middle of the day to discuss faith with her.
When he declared the poor and the oppressed to be his very purpose for being.

And it was this bold, unapologetic, activist heart of Jesus that caused him the greatest pushback and ultimately his execution, because it troubled the waters of the powerful and the religious who weren’t used to such turbulence. This is always the work of the Christian: to be a disruptive voice for the voiceless even if it sometimes means shouting down those used to being heard, and drawing their wrath. To quote journalist Finley Peter Dunne, the follower of Jesus it is to “comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.”

This is the beautiful and complex heart of the Gospel; the specific tension of being an extremist, but an extremist for Love.

Most people think that Jesus was a shepherd but this was only a half-truth. Yes, to the sheep he was shepherd. To the vulnerable, the marginalized, and the invisible he was protector and healer and the mender of wounds. To them he was safety and softness; gentle caregiver and quiet reassurance.

But not to the wolves. To the wolves he was something else. To them he was the holy fury of an outraged God who refused to tolerate the mistreatment of those made in God’s image. To the wolves he was as fierce and fiery and offensive as they come. To the wolves Jesus was a terror.

In Matthew Chapter 23, Jesus repeatedly tears into the religious leaders for their hypocrisy and for their abuse of those in their care and under their influence. His words were brutal and bold and direct, and one can imagine the Pharisees right feeling attacked, even offended by them. But that was not reason enough for him to be silent. Their hurt feelings were not the priority, the defense of those being victimized was.

Jesus’ scathing words were true and righteous and redemptive, and he sacrificed none of his Jesus-ness to deliver them without softening or apology. It didn’t alter a sub-atomic particle of his goodness to say those words and to be that forceful. His unrelenting activism was the overflow of his compassionate heart for those who were hurting, and it has to be ours if we are to make any legitimate claim to his name.

It is not enough to simply have a burden, we must have a burden that moves us to respond, even at the risk of being offensive to those that response places us in direct opposition to. Despite what some Christians claim, outrage and benevolence can inhabit the same space. The former does not have to leave so that the latter can come. In fact, it is when they are allowed to exist simultaneously that transformation happens within us and around us, These are the dual engines of redemptive justice. When we are faithfully replicating the fully expansive heart of Jesus, we will be both minister and activist, servant and warrior, sheep protector and wolf chaser. We will yield both gentleness and audacity equally.

When injustice takes place, one group is being damaged while the other is doing the damaging, and the Christian needs to respond to both parties with equal vigor. To only do the one is to perpetuate a lop-sided Christ that doesn’t honor him or to the work we are called to do of making Shalom for all people, not just for some.

Christians should never sacrifice passion and conviction on the altar of decorum and hurt feelings. 

It is not a betrayal of Jesus to live as an activist, it is in fact an embracing of his very heart.

There is much to be outraged about in these days, so let yourself be outraged and let that outrage be catalytic. Yes, cultivate compassion and respect for all people. Go care for the sheep as gently as you can and with as much kindness as you are able. But when you need to, bravely face an offensive world and risk offending it.

In the face of extreme hatred, be an extremist of love who will not be silenced.

In the name of Jesus, go forth and piss off the wolves wherever they show up; in your home, your school, the streets, the church, in City Hall—or in the White House.

 

 

135 thoughts on “Cultivating the Activist Heart of Jesus

  1. Dear John:

    Sorry to break it to you, but you’re coming off the rails.

    Much of what you say is correct and must be said. But I urge you to contextualize your remarks more directly in a kingdom context. I also recommend that you study counter-imperial theology, and to reinvest your understanding of the Gospel NOT as ‘Christ AND Caesar,’ but ‘NOT Cesar BUT CHRIST!’

    I believe that you understand these things. But sometimes, all of us need encouragement to ‘stay on the rails.’

    Blessings!

      • Carmen Melton, I am beginning to suspect he is a troll because of the name-calling and dragging in red herrings. Yesterday or the day before the red herring was Marxism. It was completely off-topic.

        gdd has an agenda and his agenda would be better served if he started his own blog.

        I have a blog and it serves my agenda: https://knitternun.wordpress.com/

        Anyone who looks at it will see at once that I have no idea what I am doing with it, I could use instructions.

        Also, Carmen, how did you get a photo to be your avatar. I have a photo I would prefer as my avatar instead of the quilt blocks, but I don’t know how to make it so. I am dunce, really, when it comes to computers.

          • That must be the problem , then. I am not very good with these computer gizmos and someone else created my WordPress account and I can’t figure out how to make changes. I need step by step directions, LOL

                • Barbara Weaver Smith, that was so very helpful. Thank you.

                  I was astounded to read the profile. Someone else set up my wordpress blog and I submitted a profile but that is not what ended up as the profile. Apparently he edited it with a heavy hand.

                  Wish I had known this sooner because the previous profile contained info that was misleading about who I am.

                  Now… if I could just figure out how to edit my blog and put some lovely photos onto it… I intensely dislike what that guy did. I have no access to him, he was the employee of a very dear friend who has since died.

                    • No, it is still there, just go back into the “About” tab and look for your “Edit” icon, mine is usually at the bottom.

                      That will bring it up for you to edit as desired.

                      To add pictures you need to edit the post load the pictures and add it to each one…or just start adding them going forward. There should be an “insert content” just under your title.

    • gdd, it makes me sad to read what you write. First, you always start with an attack. You go for the throat and that is a form of violence. Starting off with an insulting attack os the behavior of a troll.

      Secondly, what John writes is never something you stop and think about before you harangue him to write the post *you* want to read. Since this is always the case, why don’t you start your own blog?

      John is a prophet. He exhorts. He holds up a mirror and we see ourselves reflected in it. Those who don’t like their reflection need to be repenting of those things they don’t like instead of demanding that John change. He won’t and none of us have the power to make him change only the Holy Spirit does.

      Please start your own blog and cease to attack John and call him names. Who he is in Christ is none of your business and it is wrong to demand that John into your perceptions. Perceptions are NOT reality. They never have been. Perceptions need to be altered to accomodate evidence, facts, and truth.

      Start your own blog. Anyone else agree with me?

        • Yvonne Frith, I pray for that every day. Let’s you and I have a conversation about John’s actual content and ignore the spammers and trolls.

          What I think is something followers of Jesus need to recover is the teachings of the early church before the east/west split. Pick any of them at random and they are all telling Christians to share, share, share, share, to let none go hungry, thirsty, naked, in need of medical care.

          “Helping a person in need is good in itself. But the degree of goodness is hugely affected by the attitude with which it is done. If you show resentment because you are helping the person out of a reluctant sense of duty, then the person may recieve your help but may feel awkward and embarrassed. This is because he will feel beholden to you. If,on the other hand, you help the person in a spirit of joy, then the help will be received joyfully. The person will feel neither demeaned nor humiliated by your help, but rather will feel glad to have caused you pleasure by receiving your help. And joy is the appropriate attitude with which to help others because acts of generosity are a source of blessing to the giver as well as the receiver.”
          ― John Chrysostom

          “Let the mouth also fast from disgraceful speeches and railings. For what does it profit if we abstain from fish and fowl and yet bite and devour our brothers and sisters? The evil speaker eats the flesh of his brother and bites the body of his neighbor. ”
          ― John Chrysostom

          “For those who have little are not equally held in subjection by their possessions as those who overflow with affluence, for then the love of it becomes more tyrannical. The increase of acquisitions kindles the flame more, and renders those who possess them poorer.”
          ― John Chrysostom, The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on the First Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians

    • Gdd: Not seeing where John has Christ AND Caesar-ed here. The entire message seems to be, NOT Caesar BUT Christ. Please explain your point.

    • …I don’t think John P realizes that the work has already been done. It’s finished. Jesus already destroyed the root of Chaos, Satan. (yes, there is work for us to do, but God does not depend on it. ) He is concerned with our spiritual growth; long suffering, patience, humility, dying to self.

      The Gospel is offensive enough. We aren’t to add to the offensiveness. I can’t find any place in the bible where God instructs believers to be angry, offensive or abrasive. (In fact, it can easily be a trap for sin.)

      God instructs us to beware of & avoid the Wolves… it’s not our job to destroy them (& remember, Jesus already destroyed the Wolves. They will get their due. Thank you Jesus.)

    • Jesus himself said “Give unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and to God that which is God’s”. Are you Gad saying you know better than Jesus. Also; before correcting others writing, and thinking; correct your own spelling, and understanding first.

    • gdd, who on earth are you to tell anyone they “are coming off the rails”? By what authority are you the expert theologian here? Reverend Pavlovitz is not hiding and sniping from the safety of anonymity and lack of accountability, he is putting his perspective out there to the world and whomever wants to hear it. I never understand authoritarians like you, but if you know it all, do go run your own blog, Facebook page or ministry and let people come to you for that perspective. Forcing it into this blog is petty IMO.

  2. Outstanding as always! I am always surprised when so-called Christians speak derisively about SJWs. Matthew 25 has always been the heart of my activism and always will be. To the sheep he was a shepherd, to the wolves he was a terror… I am definitely going to use that when the Fourth Sunday of Easter comes around!

    • Leslie, please help me understand something you wrote. I do not recognize “SJWs.” What is that short for? Thanks?

      I love your avatar. I would like to replace the silly, IMO, quilt block, with a photo. Do you know how I would do that? Thanks.

    • leslie K:…. I was wondering what you meant by the Wolves were ‘terrorized’ by the Shepherd, Jesus. It’s my perception that those that were against Jesus were very sure of themselves in their opposition to him, they ridiculed him and spit on him, and he remained meek as a lamb. I don’t think they were terrorized by him.

      • Jesus was meek at times, but calling Pharisees white washed tombs or a brood of vipers could hardly be described as meek as a Lamb. Nor could overturning the tables in the temple. Or when He pronounced the 7 woes of the Scribes ad Pharisees(Matthew 23) or in Luke 6 when he said “24But woe to you who are rich,
        for you have already received your comfort.
        25Woe to you who are well fed now,
        for you will hunger.
        Woe to you who laugh now,
        for you will mourn and weep.
        26Woe to you when all men speak well of you,
        for their fathers treated the false prophets in the same way.”

        • shaun… yes Jesus was kick-ass. But, I don’t think it had much effect on the people he was angry with. The hypocrites.

          They continued to go on their merry way…just like they do today.

          I wish more people would see/hear/feel Jesus’ power… but they ignore it. They like their own power too much.

          • Agreed. It’s comfortable and easy for each of us to think we’ve got Jesus figured out and that he, by default, agrees with us. I know I can slip into that mindset if I’m not careful.

          • So Paul, what of Jesus’ character do you think brought Nicodemus to call upon Jesus that night? The “terror” of His words, His admonishments? or the power of His Love and healing? And further, what do you think was on Nicodemus’ heart as he was standing at the base of the cross, seeing Christ, before preparing Him for burial? Law or love?

  3. Fantastic reminder. Easy to forget that the Savior who ate with sinners and outcasts is also the Savior who delivered the “Woes”, who told the story of the Poor Man and Lazarus. I think we all try to shape and mold Jesus into a tidy, neat image that we can set aside as convenience demands, that keeps Him safe. I’m reminder of C.S. Lewis description of Aslan the Lion , “Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
    ― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

    • Shaun Jex, well said. That bit from Lion, Witch and Wardrobe, had a powerful impact on me the first time I read it. All of a sudden what I was reading in the Gospels came together and cleared the ambiguity of priests trying to tell me to settle for the warm fuzzies. I was ten and this set me on the Mystic Path.

  4. Dear John P,

    I love what you wrote this morning. Thank you. This is the stuff of hope and encouragement for all of us to do our bit to serve God.

    People who want a “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” are going to be outraged, of course. I wonder how they can read the Gospels and find evidence that He was only meek and mild, which I am certain He was on some occasions. But not always. Some people trod on meek and mild as weaknesses and some people need to have it right in their face.

    I see one troll has already attacked you. I am sorry for that as I fear there will be more.

  5. Only quibble with this excellent post by John, is Christ’s acceptance of slavery. This is witnessed to by his failure to address it critically anywhere. In fact, his use of slavery, servants, etc. In parables liking it to the Kingdom of Heaven, have always disturbed me. That and the six or so times the NT expressly commands, “Slaves, obey your masters…”
    Nowhere are masters urged, “Masters, free your slaves…”
    For all the laudable SJW inspiration in the gospels, this point still sticks in my craw, and I have yet to hear convincing or compelling explanation.

    • Sharon, are you a citizen of the USA? If so, I think maybe the reason you have trouble with this issue of slavery might be the same reason I did. Here in the USA, slavery was a brutal, brutish institution fueled by white supremacy which believed the slaves to be animals and not human.

      FWIW, academic training is Church History and I have read extensively in the writings of the early church and it is clear from them and from St. Paul that the slavery that was practised then was a far cry from the practice of slavery in the USA.

      Yes, people owned other people and that repels me also, but the only slaves who were treated brutally were criminals condemned as galley slaves or as gladiators. All other slaves were respected members of the family. Christian history teaches us that frequently within a Christian household, slaves and owners might marry because there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave or free, male or female, we are all equal in Christ Jesus.

      • It’s hard to know what Jesus thought about slavery. I am wracking my brain and am hard pressed to think of a situation in which he addressed it one way or the other. I think we can infer by the way he treated women, outcasts, and sinners, what His views on slavery might have been, but it would be conjecture. He does quote Isaiah stating that he is come to set the captive free, but of course that can be taken on any number of levels. Paul is contradictory on the issue (as he is on many – like say…women) He instructs slaves to obey their masters but in Philemon he seems to urge a slave owner to set him free. Books like Deuteronomy say things like, “”Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee.” but other verses seem to condone it. I think it is okay to be unsettled by this and to question it, just like it is okay to question Paul when he says women shouldn’t speak in church, or Ezra when he turns out all the women and children of intermarriage, or the command for Joshua to kill every man woman and child in Jericho. This is only an issue when we don’t recognize that the Bible is inspired, but is still written by humans and therefore would still reflect some of the cultural prejudices of humans at the time.

          • I understand that, it still doesn’t give us a definitive answer as to his support or distaste for the institution. I think it is possible to isolate verses in favor of or against it if you want to take the time to do so. I was driving at the idea that it is okay to have serious questions and doubts about this particular issue as represented in the Bible…

            • One of the mistakes we often make in reading the Bible is reading it through the lens of our own times. I believe this quite strongly. In order to read the Bible in a well-informed manner we have to know about the situation that produced the book we are reading.

              In order to read the Gospels, we have to know the language in which it was written or to be able to trust a translation (so many have been done with an agenda). We have to know the culture and society that produced the book. We have to know the history. And so much more.

              We know exactly what Jesus said about servants, which is a mistranslation of douloi (plural of doulos which means slave).

              We know exactly what the Early Church writers wrote about slavery and where did they find the basis of their teaching but in the Gospels and the New Testament.

              Yes, slavery existed in the Jewish culture of the first century. Yes, there were abuses, but in no place in the NT are abuses approved. Quite the contrary.

              Jesus spoke his words in a way that would get His point across within a context of a particular culture. We can’t fault Him for not saying what it is we of the 21st century want Him to say. After all, it is quite possible that He did say what we want Him to say and the Gospel writer chose not to include it. The writers were merely human beings after all and did not write their documents in a form of automatic writing nor were they taking dictation.

              • Agree that cultural/historical context is important. My point was more to what you said at the end. We know what Jesus said as recorded in the Gospels, but given that it wasn’t dictation/automatic writing and that was done by humans, and written a number of years after Jesus’s death we have to accept that the human element, pre-existing prejudices etc. could have affected what was included/excluded and then do our best with what we have.

                • Exactly, Shaun, we may not always like what the Bible does or does not say, but it says what it says and we must conform ourselves to Scripture. Not rewrite to suit our modern notions.

                  Which MUST NOT be taken to mean I support slavery. I am opposed to it.

                  • I have no problem understanding that God disagrees and even hates slavery.

                    He accommodated it just like he tolerates so many of the imperfect ideas human beings have.

                    Here is an often overlooked passage in Deuteronomy 23:15

                    “If slaves should escape from their masters and take refuge with you, you must not hand them over to their masters.”

                    • But there are many passages that are not overlooked and do condone and even reinforce slavery. It is hard to fathom Jesus working among the poor and oppressed and not knowing of the problems of slavery while on earth and being divine he also knew the future of it and how that all played out. I do not see how we can think he did ignore it rather than his biographers chose to act as if he did.

        • Augustine of Hippo. “”Chapter 15 – Of the Liberty Proper to Man’s Nature, and the Servitude Introduced by Sin—A Servitude in Which the Man Whose Will is Wicked is the Slave of His Own Lust, Though He is Free So Far as Regards Other Men.” in City of God (Book 19 )”.”. God … did not intend that His rational creature, who was made in His image, should have dominion over anything but the irrational creation – not man over man, but man over the beasts … the condition of slavery is the result of sin … It [slave] is a name .. introduced by sin and not by nature … circumstances [under which men could become slaves] could never have arisen save [i.e. except] through sin … The prime cause, then, of slavery is sin, which brings man under the dominion of his fellow [sinful man] … But by nature, as God first created us, no one is the slave either of man or of sin.

          From the Homily 22 on Ephesians, John Chrysostom described slavery as ‘the fruit of covetousness, of degradation, of savagery … the fruit of sin, [and] of [human] rebellion against … our true Father”

          Chrysostom opposed unfair and unjust forms of slavery by giving these instructions to those who owned slaves: ” ‘And ye masters’, he continues, ‘do the same things unto them’. The same things. What are these? ‘With good-will do service’ … and ‘with fear and trembling’ … toward God, fearing lest He one day accuse you for your negligence toward your slaves … ‘And forbear threatening;’ be not irritating, he means, nor oppressive … [and masters are to obey] the law of the common Lord and Master of all … doing good to all alike … dispensing the same rights to all”.

          n his Homilies on Philemon, Chrysostom opposes unfair and unjust forms of slavery by stating that those who own slaves are to love their slaves with the Love of Christ: “this … is the glory of a Master, to have grateful slaves. And this is the glory of a Master, that He should thus love His slaves … Let us therefore be stricken with awe at this so great love of Christ. Let us be inflamed with this love-potion. Though a man be low and mean, yet if we hear that he loves us, we are above all things warmed with love towards him, and honor him exceedingly. And do we then love? And when our Master loves us so much, we are not excited?”.

          Saint Patrick (415-493), himself a former slave, argued for the abolition of slavery, as had Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335-394), and Acacius of Amida (400-425). Origen (c. 185-254) favored the Jewish practice of freeing slaves after six years.[82][83] Saint Eligius (588-650) used his vast wealth to purchase British and Saxon slaves in groups of 50 and 100 in order to set them free.[84]

    • sharon b… definitely something to think about. [the acceptance of slavery in the bible.]

      I know one thing that God says about slavery. ‘You are all slaves to sin.’

      In this horrible world, I think we are all slaves; mentally, physically, spiritually … some more than others. (& human slavery will continue to thrive like it is now.)

      It’s evil.

      Alas! There is Good News. It’s entirely possible to have those chains broken, now, and for eternity, through faith in Jesus Christ.

    • There is only one “convincing or compelling” answer to why Jesus never addressed slavery, sex with slaves, children with slaves and concubines and other “issues” in the Bible…it would have been very hard for him to have found many followers had he done so since it was historically so prevalent. IMO, there are things deliberately left out of the Bible by those scribes and translators and church leaders who created the Bible. That Jesus would condone slavery and other lecherous, cruel behaviors can only be squared in my mind by knowing he did not, that just did not make the cut. If we are to believe the words he did say, how can we think he would ignore that?

  6. Finally something that brings us all together: justification for our anger. Now if we can just agree on what or whose sin is worse…

    • Jim Sterling, if you meant that tongue in cheek, then I misunderstood you and I apologize. But if you sincerely mean that as a question, then
      all the great Christian teachers inform us that all sin is equally heinous in the eyes of God.

      • I agree Gloriamarie, and with this in common we should be able to come together. It’s a shame how focusing on other’s sin pulls us apart.

        • Jim, I hear you. I am so sick and tired of Christians focusing on what they fault in other Christians that I started a FB group called Celebrate What Christians Have in Common in which stuff is posted and the discipline that I ask of every member of the group is that they DO NOT write about what they dislike in a posting but look for what they can affirm and only write about that. I get rid of the trolls pretty darned quickly.

          All are welcome: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1409874399270377/

  7. If Jesus overturned the tables of the money-changers, think what he would have done in the abortion clinics.

    Should we Christians storm planned parenthoods and rip out their tools of death?

    That’s what social justice warriors should do.

    • Very curious to know if you actually believe this or if you thought it would be a provocative straw man type argument, subtly changing the subject from the one being proposed by the author and attempting to undermine Social Justice argument John was putting forward. Beyond that, if you feel passionate about reducing abortions, what practical steps do you propose for eliminating their need? If you feel God is calling you to this, how do you suggest addressing it? I am genuinely curious, because I know there are plenty of Social Justice advocates who are passionately pro-choice and others who are passionately pro life. You can be either and still believe in need for social justice…

      • Shaun Jex, I am adamnatly pro-choice and by that I mean how the term was originally coined when the ERA was up for votes and that war criminal Dick Cheney lead the fight against it.

        Pro-choice means women get to determine their own lives, their own goals, achieve their own desires and aims, without permission from any man. It means women are fully human, it is not a pre-existing medical condition to be a woman and we have control over our own bodies. We are equal partners if we are in a relationship which means partners are mutually submissive to each other out of love.

        I could go on, but this is the concept of pro-choice that we need to reclaim.

        • I was more addressing the Anonymous poster trying to detract from the point of John’s post. I’ve met and read the works of Social Justice Warriors who are passionate about being pro-life. I’ve met others who are equally passionate about being pro-choice. From what I gathered from the person’s post, they were attempting to discredit John’s whole point about social justice by discussing one topic as though it invalidated everything else he had to say, setting up a false dichotomy and then attacking that…

          • Yes, I understood that. I wanted to point the constant misuse, IMO, of the phrase “pro-choice” as if it only means pro-abortion, which is wrong.

            Sadly too, Shaun Jex, there are people commenting here who are one-issue people and try to pervert the conversation to their one pet issue. I suggest they start their own blogs where they can write as much as they please, exactly as they please, instead of constantly demanding that John turn his back on his God-driven, God-given ministry and write what they want to read.

            In the time that I have been reading John P’s blog I don’t recall that he ever once addressed the issue of abortion, but that doesn’t prevent the one-issue folk (aka trolls) from dragging their favorite red herring into any conversation.

        • You cannot call yourself a Christian and be pro-choice. That is the very hypocrisy that Jesus condemned the pharisees for in Matthew 23 that was mentioned above. Women are fully human as you say but so are the children being formed in their womb.

          • James Spader, you apparently seem to believe the Republican lie that pro-choice equals pro-abortion.

            I never mentioned abortion and I will not because that subject attracts the trolls with a pathological obsession for the subject.

            Pro-choice means women get to determine their own lives, their own goals, achieve their own desires and aims, without permission from any man. It means women are fully human, it is not a pre-existing medical condition to be a woman and we have control over our own bodies. We are equal partners if we are in a relationship which means partners are mutually submissive to each other out of love.

            • is physical death in the womb worse than spiritual death in the church?

              How many christians have despised the spiritually begotten of Christ?

              would a stone around the neck suffice?

              • It’s a pity some people who post here are too young to remember the women’s movement and as a result, are unfamiliar with the original definition of pro-choice.

                What is inexcusable is that some people refuse to be educated.

                The neo-conservatives hijacked the term “pro-choice” to make it a synonym of “pro-abortion.” It is a Very Great Pity that neo-cons will not allow the correct definition of pro-choice to stand.,

                I am also sick and tired of the yammering voices about the evils of abortion when never once do I hear a word in support of those efforts which have reduced the number of abortions OR allow the baby to thrive.

                All the loudest yammering voices are those opposed to the federal programs that address health and well-being by claiming that conservatives donate more to charity than any other demographic.

                While that may be true, conservatives do not donate enough to meet the needs of all in need. I suspect they only donate where they can get a tax deduction because both Charles and I have indicated how close to the edge we are and not a single conservative has offered to help us.

    • Anonymous… interesting point.

      I think if abortions were being performed at the Church, Jesus would definitely angrily kick them out.

      I can’t picture him storming some Tantric Yoga Retreat in Malibu or bothering a Pagan Temple Abortion Clinic in Chicago. (although he certainly has a right to).

      I don’t see any place in the bible where he goes to pagan tribes and forcefully tries to stop their beloved religious practices.

      But he sure got riled when the Jews mixed the pagan practices with their own Jewish Faith!

      The question that Christians should ask themselves…’Is there something that I’m participating in or approve of that should not be mixed with my Faith?”

      • This is a true appropriate question to ask God. However, it is not up to other Christians to decide that the answer that God gave them is the same answer that God gave to another Christian. God speaks to each person’s heart as GOD knows that person’s heart. I have heard that many well-known Christian speakers are inundated with “requests” that start with “God told me that you should …”. The third commandment I learned was “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” The New Revised Standard version that I use today gives this commandment as, “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.” Something to think about when you start to say, “God says …”.

        • Kathleen, “However, it is not up to other Christians to decide that the answer that God gave them is the same answer that God gave to another Christian. God speaks to each person’s heart as GOD knows that person’s heart.”

          Oh my goodness, yes. I wish more Christians understood this.

        • kathleen… thanks for your reply. again something to think about.

          I’m not sure it would make sense if someone said, God says in his Word: ‘be kind to strangers.’ …but then someone else said, “Well, God didn’t say that to me, so it doesn’t apply.”

          I think God speaks to all his Children (the same) through his written word.

          I can’t think of any bible truth that only applies to one person or a few people.

          • Very true!! However — again! — how God uses his Word to comfort or rebuke is very personal and individually purposed. Let me tell you a story:
            Many years ago a friend was chosen for a position of leadership that I coveted. I went whining to God: “Why not me? I need to feel that I am a part of this community.”
            My answer: “My grace is sufficient.”
            Many years before this because of circumstances that don’t need to be detailed my husband and I brought his ex-wife to live in our home for six months. It was a need that was met.
            So now I “reminded” God of this “great work” I had done.
            My answer: 1 John 3:16!
            Me: What? I don’t know that verse!
            My answer: 1 John 3:16!
            So I looked it up. Do you know what it said:
            “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us — and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.”

            I knew this was not an affirmation for my “great work”!!!

            So, yes, God’s word is the same for everyone. However, only God can know a person’s heart and how that person will respond to what God wants that person to hear. When Nathan went to David about Bathsheba, Nathan first told a story about somebody else. David responded in anger saying, “…the man who has done this deserves to die; he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” Nathan’s response was, “You are the man!” Nathan was a messenger from God to David who by his rebuke to David HELPED David to RECOGNIZE AND REPENT of his sin; Nathan was not the judge of David’s sin.
            And then we have Jesus in Matthew 7 saying, “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. . . . “Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?” It seems to me Nathan helped David see the log in his own eye by his rebuke, not judgment.

            And something else: God cannot forgive us our sin until we do repent and we cannot repent until we recognize our sin. Me being told — judged — by someone else will not help me recognize what I am doing wrong. That is where friends who know and love you, people you are in relationship with, are more likely to be messengers from God rather than a stranger TELLING you what he/she thinks God says.

    • Hunger aborts lives
      Lack of health care aborts lives
      Gun violence aborts lives
      Poverty aborts lives
      Preimptive War aborts lives

      Being anti-abortion is not the same as being pro-life consistently.
      What kind of abortion? “elective” or “Therapeutic” (a medical emergency) Whose life matters? The mother’s, the unborn child, the 3 other children who will be motherless if their mother delivers the baby with no brainstem. Pro which lives? Matthew 25:31-46 is Jesus’ magnas opus, bottom line yardstick about Godliness. Read it. That is the bottom line.

    • If Planned Parenthood Clinics were forcing or coercing women to have abortions, we would be validated in “storming” them, but that is not the situation. They are not in a church, or the parking lot, or the side of the road doing something to people who do not know any better, they are a choice women freely make and pay to have done. They are also not claiming to be working for the Lord our God as those in the temple were. You can conflate and contort all you like but autonomy over our body is a human right, whether you like it or not.

      Until I see those so against abortion working for a world that supports every child, and working for the things we know can lower the abortion demand, I will call the hypocrisy what it is. You want to control the womb of women, and unless it is yours, you have no right to do so.

      Social Justice Warriors would fight for a world that would support women and their children so that no one would feel like they needed to choose abortion. Do you do that? How?

  8. John,
    Thank you for sharing your perception of Jesus as a fully complex being. The Jesus who is personified in the New Testament cannot be known or understood by the few words or situations that are recounted in stories written long after his death. If a person believes Jesus was and is Immanuel — God with us — then that person needs to come to know the many and varied ways God moves and is moving in each person’s daily life and in the many and varied situations of our world communities. To me, the only way to begin to know a very minute part of the vastness of an unknowable God is to study how others have come close to God, how others have “heard” God speak to them, and try in my own heart and mind to nurture my relationship with God through my devotions, my study, and my actions. And I must AT ALL TIMES be aware that God speaks to ME about ME and what God wants ME to do and it’s not for me to judge what someone else should or should not do.

    John, you ARE truly a prophet in this age and at this time. You have helped my perspective about situations and helped me realize my arrogance in assuming that what I know about God is universal knowledge. As each prophet in the Old Testament had his or her own voice and own perception, so God has called your voice and your perception to awakening us to tend to our lamps as we await the Bridegroom.

    I do want to share a verse that God gave to me the day after the election. It was a verse that was given to me many years ago that I have used over the years to heal many different wounds. A couple of weeks before the election I played a game on Facebook to find out what my Bible verse was — and lo and behold it was this same verse, so I share it now:
    Isaiah 41:9,10
    “You whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, ‘You are my servant, I have chosen you and not case you off’; do not fear, for I a with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I wil strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”

    God be with you in all your words and efforts!

    Kathleen

  9. There have been a few interesting rabbit holes that we’ve been skirting in this thread. Just the fact that a Middle Eastern Jew is repeatedly depicted as a tall Nordic man with impeccable grooming is indication of a large degree of cultural blanding. A few years ago I read this book about the historical Jesus:
    Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, by Reza Aslan
    which places Jesus in the cultural context of his day…which was a time of end-times and prophets on the corner. He was a sh*t-disturber, and spoke truth to power regularly.
    The problem with being a Social Justice Activist is that there’s no convention over what that term means, particularly when the worldviews of the warring camps are so very different. An abortion clinic bomber believes that they are as just as the people who protect the clients of the clinics. It’s a deep mud pit we wrestle in.
    That being said, siding with the meek and against the powerful is the common mission of all major world religions, to my understanding; the problem today is that the powerful see themselves as powerless – or at the very least threatened – and thus immune from criticism.

    • Mosswings, as always your words are welcome.

      “Just the fact that a Middle Eastern Jew is repeatedly depicted as a tall Nordic man with impeccable grooming is indication of a large degree of cultural blanding.” I was in huge trouble a few weeks ago when I objected to a modern depiction of Jesus as a just this sort of person. It was on a meme. I said something to the effect that since we know Jesus was a Palestinian (one who lived in Palestine as it was once known), why can’t we in the USA depict Him as such.

      The depiction was defended by people saying Jesus is always depicted in the way that suits the cultural so in Africa, He is black, in Japan or China, He is Asian. Which is fine.

      But those cultures did not give rise to the Gentle Jesus Meek and Mild version of Christ that is so popular. I would think depicting Jesus as a Middle Eastern man is an important thing to do.

      In fact, he mostly liked sorta like this but with longer hair because he was a Jew:
      http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/health/a234/1282186/

      • An interesting thought. The malleability of the representation of dieties as a religion spreads from culture to culture is a double-edged sword, Gloriamarie. While it allows the believers to more easily identify with dieties as “like them”, it also plays to the othering of those “not like them”. See, for example, the uproar surrounding non-white Santas. Not a deity, but the same principle. Jesus is no color, and all colors; human, but beyond human; love, beyond categories.

        • I have often said that I think God became incarnate in Israel very deliberately. Not only because He is the Messiah, but also because that bit of geography known as Israel is at a place where all the colors of humanity have co-mingled. The incarnate Jesus very likely had DNA from all sorts of people, of all sorts of colors.

          Something you said above was something I meant to address. You wrote “The problem with being a Social Justice Activist is that there’s no convention over what that term means, particularly when the worldviews of the warring camps are so very different. An abortion clinic bomber believes that they are as just as the people who protect the clients of the clinics. It’s a deep mud pit we wrestle in.”

          May I disagree with you? I think Social Justice is very well defined as is a Social Justice Activist.

          Social justice is defined as promoting a just society by challenging injustice and valuing diversity.

          It exists when all people share a common humanity and therefore have a right to equitable treatment, support for their human rights, and a fair allocation of community resources.

          In conditions of social justice, people are not be discriminated against, nor their welfare and well-being constrained or prejudiced on the basis of gender, sexuality, religion, political affiliations, age, race, belief, disability, location, social class, socioeconomic circumstances, or other characteristics of background or group membership.

          A Social Justice Activist is a person who works to achieve the ends mentioned above. Generally speaking, we don’t break the law.

          An abortion clinic bomber is not a Social Justice activist because the goals of the bomber are not in accord with the definition of Social Justice. Someone who bombs a clinic with people inside is a murderer.

      • Hello Gloramarie,

        I am enjoying reading your posts, especially regarding pro-choice.

        I just wanted to add that, astonishingly, a very high % of people across the ENTIRE world, believe Jesus was white . Not, Chinese for the Chinese, not African for Africans. The European colonizers/missionaries ‘exported’ the white Jesus to other countries. Growing up in South Korean, we had a white Jesus.

        • JinJoo Kim, thank you for the compliment.

          I can well believe that so many people think Jesus when incarnate had white flesh.

          I wonder if the history of iconography helps… Any flesh in an icon of Jesus, angels, saints etc are painted in 5 different shades of paint and each is successive lighter until the last layer which is supposed to represent God’s radiant light shining through the person.

          I asked my teacher about it because I wanted to paint Jesus with more Middle Eastern tones and that was the explanation she gave me.

          With the schism between the East and West portions of the church, western artists started gradually to depart from the icon tradition but kept the light skin tones, but painted differently than the way iconographers painted the flesh. Until Jesus, Mary, the Apostles all became white people.

          Then as missionaries spread all over the globe, they took a white Jesus with them.

          I completely understand why people would paint Jesus to look like themselves. It’s a point of contact with Him.

          I just now thought of this explanation. LOL

        • JinJoo Kim, Please don’t respond to Joe Catholic because he is a troll and he only ever wants to talk about abortion, with which he has a pathological obsession. Best thing to do is ignore him.

          • JinLoo,

            You mentioned pro-choice and I asked an honest question about how a Christian could support this injustice, of which every Christian ought to be somewhat “obsessed.”

            Pay no attention to Gloria. She thinks she runs the show around here, but she doesn’t. She thinks she’s a nun too. The best thing to do is take her millions of lengthy posts with a grain of salt, but that’s entirely up to you of course.

            I am genuinely interested in the answer that Gloria is attempting to thwart.

            • Clearly, this is Joe Catholic writing under yet another pseudonym while telling lies about me and deliberately trying to annoy me with his childish behavior. I think he is about ten years old.

              His questions have been answered by several people and (1) he ignores the answers and (2) he simply repeats the same things over and over.

              Also, he is a liar as he lies with all of his many pseudonyms. Only a child would think we don’t see through that.

              He lies when he says I “think I am a nun.” I believe I know better than he whether or not I am under religious vows.

              Also given that he and a bunch of the other trolls here voted for Trump and other Republicans, they are as good as murderers considering that the GOP have announced their plans to cut Social Secrity benefits even for current recipients. Since so many children, disabled people, and the elderly depend on Social Security, Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), there will be a devastatingly high mortality rate.

              So thank you, trolls, for committing murder.

  10. As usual, this post is heart-warming for me. Your writing encourages me. What’s more, this post has a wonderful and inspiring string of helpful and insightful responses. Amen, and again I say, Amen!

  11. Yes, yes! Excellent article except… the use of the shepherd and the wolf as metaphors. I know the bible uses the shepherd image a lot, but remember the shepherd is guarding the sheep for their “owner” who will shear them and slaughter them. And the wolf? I don’t know if there is any other creature so maligned as the wolf. Yes, they attacked sheep to eat them (like the “owners” of the sheep), but unlike humans they are not wasteful, they are not greedy. They take only what they need. They do not attack humans. And they are endangered and being hunted by hunters in airplanes! Who’s the beast here?

  12. Wow. Makes me wanna go out right now with my sign held high but my husband will think I lost my marbles. And it’s dark out there. But thank John. What a moving piece. “When we are faithfully replicating the fully expansive heart of Jesus, we will be both minister and activist, servant and warrior, sheep protector and wolf chaser. We will yield both gentleness and audacity equally.”

  13. Great post.

    One thing that I’ve found puzzling and disappointing is the use of Christianity as a cover for one’s political and social views.

    It seems like there’s a lot of anger, and rather little compassion for:

    people for war-ravaged countries
    people who benefit from government social programs
    people whose sexuality differs from that of the majority

    • Friendly guy, “One thing that I’ve found puzzling and disappointing is the use of Christianity as a cover for one’s political and social views.”

      I find it puzzling also. I am a Christian and I find that taking the words of Jesus, the NT writers, the writings of the early church, etc seriously demands that my political views be progressive. I really don’t understand how it is that anyone who claims to love the Lord isn’t politically progressive.

      After all, Psalm 125 tells us
      125 Those who trust in the Lord
      Are as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever.
      2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
      So the Lord surrounds His people
      From this time forth and forever.
      3 For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest upon the [a]land of the righteous,
      So that the righteous will not put forth their hands to do wrong.
      4 Do good, O Lord, to those who are good
      And to those who are upright in their hearts.
      5 But as for those who turn aside to their crooked ways,
      The Lord will lead them away with the doers of iniquity.
      Peace be upon Israel.

      Trusting the Lord is radically counter-cultural.

  14. Unfortunately, Jesus never ran a “social gospel”. The Gospel he preached and lived was a personal one. One that was backed up by his divinity and authority. The Gospel preached by Jesus was one of personal responsibility, not social change. Social change comes from changing the individual, not trying to change the views of society at large. The Gospel is personal. It changes people at their very core. People who have been changed by the Gospel then take their lives on the road so to speak and let their light shine.

    • Jesus does indeed preach social justice. As did all the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures, as did the authors of the New Testament, as did the Early Church Fathers, as have all the various saints. He teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Some ways He tells us to do that is by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, and providing for those in need.

      Without social justice words of redemption have no meaning.

      Evidently, though, you don’t believe in the Resurrection or you would not have used the past tense.

      • Gloriamarie. Edwards is another famous troll on John’s blog—here long before you arrived. He used to show up all the time but does so infrequently now. Edward is a member of the fundie crowd who believes that the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about selling quick fire insurance policies to save souls—Christian life and responsibility all over after closing a policy sale.

        • Ah. Is he? Doesn’t seem to write with the demeaning, hateful, insulting, intolerant vocabulary that I expect from trolls.

          If he is, as you say, a fundie, it is even more distressing that he speaks of Jesus in the past tense.

  15. Blow it out your “A” Joe. Here is the official United Methodist Church position on abortion as stated in the “Book of Discipline, Paragraph 161.J:

    Abortion

    “The beginning of life and the ending of life are the God-given boundaries of human existence. While individuals have always had some degree of control over when they would die, they now have the awesome power to determine when and even whether new individuals will be born. Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion.

    But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother and the unborn child.

    We recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures by certified medical providers. We support parental, guardian, or other responsible adult notification and consent before abortions can be performed on girls who have not yet reached the age of legal adulthood. We cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control, and we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender selection or eugenics (see Resolution 3184).

    We oppose the use of late-term abortion known as dilation and extraction (partial-birth abortion) and call for the end of this practice except when the physical life of the mother is in danger and no other medical procedure is available, or in the case of severe fetal anomalies incompatible with life. This procedure shall be performed only by certified medical providers. Before providing their services, abortion providers should be required to offer women the option of anesthesia.

    We call all Christians to a searching and prayerful inquiry into the sorts of conditions that may cause them to consider abortion. We entrust God to provide guidance, wisdom, and discernment to those facing an unintended pregnancy.

    The Church shall offer ministries to reduce unintended pregnancies. We commit our Church to continue to provide nurturing ministries to those who terminate a pregnancy, to those in the midst of a crisis pregnancy, and to those who give birth.

    We mourn and are committed to promoting the diminishment of high abortion rates. The Church shall encourage ministries to reduce unintended pregnancies such as comprehensive, age-appropriate sexuality education, advocacy in regard to contraception, and support of initiatives that enhance the quality of life for all women and girls around the globe.

    Young adult women disproportionately face situations in which they feel that they have no choice due to financial, educational, relational, or other circumstances beyond their control. The Church and its local congregations and campus ministries should be in the forefront of supporting existing ministries and developing new ministries that help such women in their communities. They should also support those crisis pregnancy centers and pregnancy resource centers that compassionately help women explore all options related to unplanned pregnancy. We particularly encourage the Church, the government, and social service agencies to support and facilitate the option of adoption. (See ¶ 161L.) We affirm and encourage the Church to assist the ministry of crisis pregnancy centers and pregnancy resource centers that compassionately help women find feasible alternatives to abortion.

    Governmental laws and regulations do not provide all the guidance required by the informed Christian conscience. Therefore, a decision concerning abortion should be made only after thoughtful and prayerful consideration by the parties involved, with medical, family, pastoral, and other appropriate counsel.
    Ministry to Those Who Have Experienced an Abortion

    “We urge local pastors to become informed about the symptoms and behaviors associated with post-abortion stress. We further encourage local churches to make available contact information for counseling agencies that offer programs to address post-abortion stress for all seeking help.”

    • I think it is probably worth pointing out that a recent study also indicates abortion is at its lowest rate since the 1970s, much of which is due to access to quality health care, education, contraception, etc. So – given that these things are having a tangible affect reducing what you are fighting against Catholic Joe – I assume you are support providing adequate access to them, unlike the President Elect you are lauding.

      • If you understand Catholicism you know that I cannot approve of contraception. Its use is intrinsically evil. It actually has contributed to our abortion culture because it makes pregnancy an enemy and a successful reproductive act a failure, which can be “remedied” by “contraception part II,” i.e. ABORTION.

        You have your immoral ideas for reducing abortion that I don’t accept. And we are still killing about 1,000,000 every year by the injustice of abortion.

        Let’s start with this and work our way out from there. You ought to agree with it since you profess to be a Christian:

        “Abortion kills a person unjustly.”

        Once we start with that premise, we can effectively take steps to eradicate this injustice. Agreed?

        • From a pragmatic point of view, I suspect that my approach will actually reduce abortions and simultaneously protect the lives of the women in question. Your approach will likely do neither. Much like trolling another person’s blog, it will achieve little more than self satisfaction with no tangible real world consequence.

        • No, I do not agree that your premise is where we need to start. I do not think “Abortion kills a person unjustly”.

          1)Abortion ends a pregnancy at a stage where there is no person 999 out of a 1000 times and the last one is a situation no family should ever have to face.

          2)Even if you believe we are a person at conception (and I do not ), that is still not your decision to make unless it is your womb. Presuming to make that decision for anyone is wrong.

          3)Unless you are doing all you can to make this world a better more welcoming supportive place for the women who feel they need to choose abortion, you have no voice and deserve none.

          4)Until we have comprehensive sex education that teaches teens what they need to know, until we have readily available prophylactics to prevent pregnancy, until we have an economy that means a child is not a deep financial burden many cannot bear, until we value and support the woman and the child after birth, we do not have the right to speak to her decision.

          5)It is not our sin or our fault that we are biologically driven to seek sex and that action, even with precautions taken can lead to accidental pregnancy and none of us are fit to throw the first stone at someone who chooses abortion.

          6) Until this nation stops killing children by neglect, abuse, war and indifference to their poverty, until there is no trafficking and abuse, until there are no refugees, starving children in places of suffering, until there is a better world to welcome them into, forced incubation is a crime. Especially since believers know that if that fetus is a person, God is waiting with open arms and all that we lack.

      • Shaun Jex, a thought… how could as staunch an RC as Joe C possibly support contraception? Although with the threat of Zika, Pope Francis has approved the use of condoms to prevent spread of infection (although not for STDs in general, which puzzles me), the RCC still opposes the use of birth control.

  16. Just a note: Please don’t confuse pacifism with passivism. MLK was a pacifist. As was Gandhi. Both drew inspiration from Jesus. Neither was passive.

    Pacifism doesn’t ignore injustice. It looks for ways to address injustice without resorting to violence. By that definition, Jesus was indeed a pacifist.

    Violence is a weak response, showing a lack of resources. It takes faith, strength and creativity to choose effective yet nonviolent responses to evil.

    • Marsha Lynn, If I misunderstood what you wrote or your intention, I apologize and please forgive me. You wrote, “Just a note: Please don’t confuse pacifism with passivism. ” I agree with you and too few seem to understand the difference.

      It is not John P who confuses the issue. When John uses “passive” in this way “Most Christians paint in their minds a highly selective picture of Christ, one that usually makes him a placid, stoic, passive presence; little more than a silent and smiling spectator who was above” he is making a point about a version of Jesus some Christians create in their minds that just isn’t true.

      I think his point is valid, just wanted to mention that John P does not think of Jesus as passive.

      • Gloriamarie, I was responding to this line:

        “Jesus was not a pacifist, he was a peacemaker, and these are very different things. One implies inaction, the other engagement.”

        According to my dictionary, the English word pacifism traces back through French to the Latin words pax (peace) + facere (make). So John is saying in literal terms, “Jesus was not a peacemaker, he was a peacemaker.” The only way the sentence works is to replace pacifist with passivist.

        I’m not at all disagreeing with John’s message, just trying to rescue the robust and active word “pacifist” from once again being confused with passivity. It may be a lost cause for the general public, but I wish people as smart as John would refrain from contribute to the confusion.

        • Marsha Lynn, thank you for your clarification I zoomed in on the sentence with “passive” in it and did not realize that you were thinking of a different sentence.

          I certainly do not believe that “pacifism” is inactive. I am pacifist and I am as active as my disabilities and handicap allow. Alas, no more participation in peaceful protests where I have to stand around.

          At this point my activism is my safety pins, Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff on FB, and whatever else comes my way that doesn’t require walking or standing around.

          FB group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/gloriamariesprogressivepetitions/

  17. John I love your writings and view point. You are helping a large number of people who think like you. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

    • Beth Brooker, Agreed! I also hope the Holy Spirit is using John to illumine minds and soften the hearts of those who have not previously thought about the things he writes about.

  18. I am reminded of WB Yates The Second Coming: “The best lack all conviction. The worst are full of passionate intensity. “. I’m hearing more warning in that quote from Yates than I had heard before. There are times to exercise our passionate intensity with as much grace and compassion as we can muster, but to ACT. Thanks for your voice in this moment.

  19. I am not a hardcore pacifist. (Since our family income is from the U.S. Navy, it would be a difficult claim to make.) However, I come from a long line of pacifists (Quakers) and have spent all of my six decades living among pacifists (Amish and Mennonites). Even beyond any spiritual conviction, pacifism is part of my DNA and my culture.

    Not all cultural pacifists have Spirit-formed characters that reflect Jesus. Even when not reflecting Jesus, however, — at its worst — pacifism doesn’t become simply passive, rolling over belly up. Rather, it becomes passive-aggressive, serving its own interests rather than that of others, rolling over belly up and then attacking anyone who dares come close. Even when turned inward, it actively resists what it sees as offensive. And it has resources at hand to do so.

    Not long ago I read Isaiah 11:4 in a new light. “With righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.”

    This is just one place where the Righteous One is depicted as having a sword in his mouth (see Revelation 1:16), but it’s where I was reading when it struck me that the weapon described is WORDS. Words, particularly Spirit-filled words, are indeed a primary weapon for the pacifist. I have seen them cut the legs right out from under someone intent on doing mischief, more effectively than any physical weapon could have done.

  20. Don’t know if this has been said yet, but shepherds can be pretty tough guys. Remember David talking about killing lions and bears to protect his sheep? So, yeah, I’m pretty sure Jesus can be a shepherd and terrifying to wolves at the same time.

  21. John, thank you for your posts if it wasn’t for these my tenuous grasp on my faith would be non-existent. Your words help me to realize that my argument is with people of the Church and not with God.

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  23. Thank you for some bold and spot on words, Reverend Pavlovitz! I think we all need to remember we are Christ’s activists and we need to act accordingly. Dogma and doctrine is not activism, it is not worship and it is not serving. We cannot “love our neighbor” unless we are serving, speaking up, making our voice heard and making efforts to heal wounds we see inflicted. Jesus was outside the church more than in it for a reason.

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  25. John, how about applying this activism towards winning of souls out where they are, streets, churches, even the White house. If we apply this much energy into our MAIN commission, which is to go out into the world and make disciples of men, don’t you think more of societal ills will be corrected?

    The Romans ruled in the time of Christ, but you will not find Him going to where they are to piss them off. Even the Pharisees that He pissed off, it was all because of their hypocrisy. They taught one thing, but behaved a different way.

    Yes, Jesus was not passive, not even the disciples after He went to heaven. Acts 2:14,41 Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen carefully, all of you……..Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.
    Acts 19:8,10 Then Paul went to the synagogue and preached boldly for the next three months, arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God….This went on for the next two years, so that people throughout the province of Asia—both Jews and Greeks—heard the word of the Lord.

    I believe also that we should speak out against ills, like when people are making deals of baby parts, or hating people who may be different from them, etc……but should it be in the streets, where a “little destruction” is allowed?

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