Photo by alexander on Morgue File.
Tell us about a time when you fought authority and took a stand against “the man.” Did you win?
I do not know that I would define anything I have ever done as taking a stand against the man. I mean, does refusing to eat mystery meat on Thursdays in the high school cafeteria when I was a junior count? Probably not.
My problem with causes is I always find something intrinsic to the cause with which I do not agree. And, while I know it is not about absolute solidarity, I must confess it usually takes the wind out of my sails. Either that, or I get distracted by something else. I have found just being myself and trying to live life takes up most of my time and effort! I try to follow the apostle Paul’s wisdom and, as much as it is within me, to live peaceably with everyone.
Having said this, I do not consider myself a Javert either. I do not cross every t and dot every i so to speak. But, we are not talking about anything grand. I may go a little faster than the speed limit for instance. I may go the wrong way down a one way street . . . okay, I do not do this often, but it has happened. Once I did it with a friend with me, he was quite nervous over the whole thing and asked me what I would say to the officer if we got caught and pulled over. I said, rather matter-of-factly, I would tell the officer this is a one way street and I do not see that I am doing anything wrong, as I am only going one way! Thankfully, no officer caught us and even more, thankfully I did not say such a thing, because I am sure it would not have been taken well!
I do have a streak of anti-establishment in me. But, as I have noted already, it tends to be more mischievous than militant. I mean, I may wash the whites and colors together in the laundry. I may put non-microwavable safe dishes in the microwave to warm up the leftovers. I may speed up when the traffic light goes yellow. As one said before, what does the yellow light mean? It means hurry up!
As you can see, none of this is praiseworthy. Standing up to the man is something I have never felt compelled to do. Perhaps I have lived a far too privileged life. I know there are instances and places where the man must be confronted. I have no ethical problem with that. Although, rebellion and a worthy cause are not the same thing.
The truth is I am not much for confrontation. I have found that as I have gotten older, I am not as opposed to it as I once was. I still do not care for it really, but I do not avoid it at all costs either.
If I tossed my hat into some ring for a good cause, I am afraid my effort would be akin to, I fought the law and the law won. That seems to happen more times than not, doesn’t it? You stand up to the man and the man knocks you for a loop! You erect the barricades, expecting your countrymen to stand tall and proud with you and you end up forsaken and dead; or, alone crawling through the sewers.
All of us, from time to time, has that rebellious streak where we can channel the spirit of Twisted Sister’s song and yell in defiance the lyrics, We’re not going to take it anymore! It’s usually right around that point that the man delivers a slap across the face! The man retorts to our insolence, yes, you will take it and lots more of it; and, furthermore, you are going to like it! For most, sooner or later they just get tired in fighting and getting slapped and finally, in defeat, sit down at the table and eat their broccoli.
All this to say, standing up to the man, if it is for a noble and worthwhile cause, is not easy or fun or glamorous. It is hard. It calls for commitment, a true belief in the cause. It calls for sacrifice and the endurance of ridicule, lies and propaganda. It does not take long for many people’s endurance and resolve to crumble and they slunk back into the masses.
As I have stated in recent posts, as this is Lent, I have been thinking and meditating a lot on Jesus’ life and final weeks. If there was ever anyone who stood up to the man, it was Christ. And you see what happens when you do!
Jesus stood up against everything that defines this age and makes it tick. He stood up to sin and death. He stood up to greed, abuse of power, religious hypocrisy and the mistreatment of the outcasts and disenfranchised.
Christ came to bring about the new covenant. He came preaching the kingdom of God was at hand. He taught us kingdom ethics. He gave us his commands and modeled how we are to live our lives. He gave his own life for us, for all who would believe, so we could be saved and forgiven of our sins. And he arose on the third day, to secure our inheritance and our victory through him.
One of the things I mentioned that Jesus stood against was religious hypocrisy. Hypocrisy has been around since the dawn of time. It is an easy sin in which to fall. We think that as long as we look the part, as long as we look good on the outside−the part of us everyone sees, then we are a-okay. Jesus taught something profoundly different. Jesus taught that obeying the commandments of God outwardly is not enough. God is not only concerned about the externals, but the internals. It is not enough, Christ taught, not to commit adultery with another man or woman. He taught that if you have lust in your heart for that man or woman, you are guilty of the sin.
He stood up against the Pharisees and had some pretty harsh words for them. He compared them to white washed tombs: they look good on the outside, but inside they are filled with death. He even went so far as to say that unless our righteousness surpassed their righteousness we could not enter the kingdom of God. This would have been an astonishing statement to those who heard it. In their culture, the Pharisees were considered the most devout and godly. How in the world could I surpass them? But, again, Jesus was touching on the truth of hypocrisy. It is not enough to look good, one must truly be good.
All of this points to the fact that God is interested, not in ritual or rites of ceremony, but in relationship. This was true in the OT and in the NT and in our own day. God doesn’t just want us to look the part, he wants us to a part−a part of his kingdom, of his life and love, of his will and grace. He wants us to share in these and proclaim them to others, through our words and lives.
God wants a relationship with us. He wants us, with all our bumps and bruises. He wants us, with all our frailties and insecurities. After all, Christ dirtied his hands in the stuff of humanity to provide an open relationship with the Father, for all who believe in his name. Christ came to bridge the gap, to span the gulf. He came to bring us the good news of the Father’s love for us, so we, through Christ, can call him our Father−Abba Father.
Jesus stood up to the man. He stood up to the oppression of sin and death. He stood up to the enemy of our souls. He stood up for us, so we could stand with him.