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Activist Faith

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What is true activism? In my previous post, I noted that in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus starts with teachings rooted in the Old Testament and offers a higher standard related to our inward motives. Between his section on being the fulfillment of the Law and the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus notes seven areas that represent true activism.

Part 1 discusses the first three areas of reconciliation, purity, and marriage. These areas are so different from what we consider activist faith that they may not even seem to fit in the same category.

However, Jesus did not divide social and personal issues in the same ways we do today. As we continue looking at this vital section of the Sermon on the Mount, we find four additional areas that define true activism.

Responsibility

Matthew 5:33-34 note, “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all.”

The section ends with noting to say simply yes or no rather than to make promises we will not keep.

While many view this as a section on keeping promises or avoiding oaths, the deeper focus is on responsibility. Jesus calls us to be people of integrity, living in such a way that people (and God) can trust our words.

There is no statistic for this area, only the simple test of asking: “Do people trust you?” This is marked by a daily, faithful commitment to doing what you say and saying what you do.

Nonviolence

The words of Matthew 5:38-42 were some of the most difficult for the original audience of Jesus. They continue to challenge us today:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Should we really commit to turning the other cheek? In personal matters, the answer is yes. While other considerations may be appropriate for defending others or in leading a nation, our personal interactions should be known for nonviolence.

If insulted, we are called to let God provide vengeance. If wrongfully treated, we are to forgive and show love. When we do, we reflect the way of Jesus, one who endured the cross and its shame to show love for us all.

Loving Enemies

Jewish tradition taught to love neighbor and hate enemies. Jesus said to love neighbor and enemies. He specifically taught to both love enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

The final verse of Matthew 5 notes this part of being “perfect” or “mature” when we can life distinctly from unbelievers and show love even for those who hate us.

True activism is much more difficult than the paid protester trend of our society. You can’t pay someone to love their enemy or to hold back from vengeance.

Only God can change a heart to reflect his heart. May God make us more like him, challenging our views and stereotypes as we seek to impact lives for eternity.

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Dr. Dillon Burroughs is one of America’s top communicators on today’s Christian issues. He serves as senior writer of The John Ankerberg Show and is author or coauthor of nearly 40 books. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter. He lives with his wife and three children in Tennessee.

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