Follow Jesus' protest style of peace not violence
Speak up and judge fairly, defending the rights of the poor and the needy.
-- Proverbs 31:9 (NIV)
Protests, riots and injustices highlight the news headlines. To the younger crowd, it may appear to be a new age phenomena. To anyone who has been around a while, it sounds like a page from history. Anyone growing up in the 1960s remembers riots, looting and protests in numbers like those we've recently seen.
Not only is protesting historical, it's been around since the beginning of time. Protesting is not necessarily a bad thing. By definition it means, "To express an objection to what someone has said or done." It's how we protest that makes the difference.
We all have passions about our viewpoints on matters. We've even disputed our perspectives passionately with our closest friends, family and anyone else who'd listen.
One of my favorite protesters was Jesus. He was a passionate about his protests. His sermons on the mountainside and lectures on the lakefront captivated his audiences. His powerful convictions expanded the hearts and minds of his listeners, as he protested against the unloving ways of the world and taught them the ways of God.
He enlisted others in his protests to be activists of benevolence, carrying out acts of love to heal the sick, feed the hungry, help the poor and needy, and treat others equally regardless of gender, race or age. His protesting style ministered peace -- not violence and destruction.
Jesus often spoke up to intervene in various situations. With his sacred brilliance, he would question his opposition, defend his cause, and verbally challenge his opponents.
One day, a woman being chased by a crowd of religious leaders ran up to Jesus. The leaders informed him she was caught in the wrongful act of adultery and wanted him to bring her to justice -- no doubt in the form of slinging stones, which was their form of capital punishment.
As the woman crouched at Jesus' feet, members of the crowd wound up for the pitch ready to hurl stones her way. I imagine they may have expected Jesus to pitch a stone or two with them. But instead of pitching a stone, he pitched a protest against their unforgiving actions with these few words, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone" (John 8:7).
Convicted by his sentiments, one by one, the angry mob of slingers dropped their stones and walked away.
This doesn't mean people were never to be disciplined for breaking the law. It just meant it was to be done with the purpose of forgiveness and restoration, not as an act of vengeance or hatred.
Eventually, Jesus' opponents managed to bring Him to trial, resulting in His death by crucifixion. As they watched Him dying a slow and painful death on the cross, I bet they were surprised when He uttered his final loving protest, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing" (Luke 23:34).
Jesus' protests remain in our hearts and minds today, as we read His passionate wisdom thread throughout the pages of the Bible. They are written to encourage us that when we take our protests to the highways and byways of life, we should model God's standard of confronting the sins of others, by speaking words of truth in love, to help a hurting world.
• Annettee Budzban is a Christian author, speaker, life coach and nurse. Contact her by emailing Annetteebudzban@aol.com or call (847) 543-8413. She is available to be your personal coach.