Recently, those who have been reading the news have seen pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli, as well as anti-Jewish protestors seemingly take over elite college campuses across the nation.  Columbia, Harvard, Yale, and approximately 100 other campuses have experienced many days of protest, but also harassment, and endangerment towards Jewish students, as well as those who disagree with the aim of the protestors.  Those aims seem vague, but a boiled down version is: Hamas/Palestinians are good, and Israel/Jews are bad.  Cries for universities to disinvest themselves from connections and contracts with the Israeli government, and attacks on Jewish students seem to be disconnected from the events of October 6, when Hamas attacked Israel and killed and raped men, women, children, and even infants.  What is the Christian response to these events?  I do not want to spend that much time on the validity of the protests themselves.  We live in a democracy, and the U.S. Constitution guarantees our right to assembly and free speech.  However, the increasing violence and disregard for public order is something else entirely.

Our society is bombarded by the media with their version and perspective, as if it is truth.  The events of Jan. 6 in Washington, DC was a full-fledged insurrection, with hundreds of people tracked down and put into jail, while the lawlessness in 2020 over Black Lives Matter protests after the death of George Floyd wasn’t.  Antifa riots and the pro-Palestinian protests are alright, despite the flaunting of laws and the destruction of property, with no one being held responsible or accountable seems to not be a problem.  So, do we have the right to protest?  YES!  Do we have the right to speak our opinion and what we believe publicly?  YES!  Do we have the right to destroy property, hurt others, and slander or intimidate people into being silent?  NO!

The apostle Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans, chapter 13:
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” (Romans 13:1–7, ESV)  

Paul writes this in the reality of being subject to the Roman government.  The same government that will eventually put him to death for proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord.  The same government that tries to squash Christianity, and the same government that put to death, not only most of the apostles, but most importantly, Jesus Christ himself!  However, Paul knew that our actions and words of love would have greater impact on the ruling class rather than our overt insults and attacks.  In the same way, protestors in our country today must recognize the same reality.  Campus authorities declare deadlines, which pass unheeded, and regulations enacted that are not enforced, so many of these youthful protestors and college students continue to ignore them.  However, there are some bright spots.  On Texas campus’ when the authorities issue a directive, it is enforced immediately with firmness and fairness.  The University of Florida campus authorities openly announced that they are not a daycare, and that they are going to treat their students like adults WITH adult consequences for violating the guidelines they have set out for orderly protests.

As Christians, we are called to submit to all governing authorities, and if we have a protest to declare, to do so with love, gentleness, and a willingness to suffer for proclaiming Jesus Christ, but never to cause harm and damage to others.  When questioned by church authorities about paying Roman taxes, Jesus has a defining response for us as Christians.  “When they handed it to him, he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. “Well, then,” Jesus said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” His reply completely amazed them.” (Mark 12:16–17, NLT) In all things, our faith in Jesus Christ comes first!  This will amaze others, this will confound others, and this will enable us to share our faith even in the face of adversity and hardship.  We are not called to be passive, but active in our faith, and willing to ensure all things to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, not for a political ideology, but for the one who came to save and who has won the victory!

I really don’t think that there are very many from Lebanon who were at any of the protests I’ve named, but all of us are called to stand up for Christ and be prepared to make a defense to others for hope that is in us at all times.  Let us not take the example of those who disobey and destroy, and ultimately bring discredit on themselves and their cause, but instead let us speak the truth with gentleness and grace, always seeking to glorify God and proclaim Jesus Christ!  Peace and Blessings!

In the Love of Jesus Christ, Pastor Bob – church, (412) 520-5407

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