I still remember the moment. I had invested six months, hundreds of dollars, and countless training hours leading up to my attempt to run across Tennessee in a 314-run (500K) called Vol State in the heat of July 2016. The first day had been difficult, yet I had managed fourth place and 98 miles by […]
Do you realize an increasing number of “activists” are paid positions? You can find these positions on websites like Idealist.org or SimplyHired.com by searching for activists. Other positions are listed at Craigslist and similar sites to find everyday people looking to hold a sign, collect petition signature, and generally make a scene about an issue for a few bucks an hour.
Some have even become paid protesters, finding employment by standing against climate change or sometimes simply being anti-Trump.
While the ethics of such practices can be debated, there is a deeper issue to discuss. If an activist can include someone who is paid to represent an issue or protest a topic, what defines a true activist?
Our culture lists one set of criteria; the Bible offers another.
A close look at the Old Testament notes some of the social topics God cares deeply about. They typically include caring for the poor, honoring marriage, supporting orphans and widows, and caring for elders and the disabled. The New Testament provides additional details, both regarding the message of the gospel as well as an emphasis on the heart.
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.
Matthew 5:21-22 shares, ““You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.”
Jesus cared about opposing murder, but here the issue was not holding anger against another. We are to live in peace with those around us.
Matthew 5:27-28 notes, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Jesus spoke long ago about the way a man should treat a woman. Men are not to sexually harass women physically or do so in their in their thoughts. This is true activism.
Matthew 5:31-32 shares, ““It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
These are difficult words in a culture of rampant divorce. Yet Jesus spoke these words primarily to men. A husband is to honor marriage by staying faithful to his wife. Period. End of story. Yes, an exception is made for a cheating spouse. The apostle Paul mentions other exceptions in 1 Corinthians 7. However, the goal is not finding a way out of marriage, but rather to focus on improving it.
These are the first three of seven aspects Jesus gave regarding the heart of true activism. They are so different from what we consider activist faith that they may not even seem to fit in the same category.
Yet Jesus did not divide social and personal issues in the same ways we do today. He cares about our heart. This includes our view of others, our view of purity, and our view of our spouse. When we care about his priorities, we may find we become more effective in our faith in other areas as well. True activism begins with the heart.
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.