The God of the Bible is a God of protest. He sent protestors into the world known as prophets, who decried the brokenness of the world and the damage wrought by sin. And he calls you and I to be protestors.
The prophets were performance artists. They put on public displays to call attention to their protests, often in ways that made them impossible to ignore. Jeremiah walked around with an ox’s yoke on his shoulders, warning that God’s people would bear the yoke of Babylon because they had not been faithful. Isaiah walked around naked for three years, warning that the people would be stripped of all they had if they did not repent. God told Ezekiel to lay down in the street for a year to show that Israel was weighed down by their sins. (And Ezekiel replied, “A year?! Can’t I just graffiti a building or something?”) John the Baptist was a performance artist, whose symbolic artwork was to tell people to dunk themselves under water as a way of pointing out that they were living unclean lives. And then he said that a performance artist was coming whose sandals he was not worthy to untie.
Jesus was a protestor. And Christmas was the best protest of all. Because in the midst of humanity’s overt rebellion against our maker, God lay down in the intersection of human life to stop traffic when he lay in the manger. In that act, God protested our sinfulness not by condemning us, but by joining us. In so doing, he modeled the kind of protest his followers are called to – one in which we join the most needy, and do so in a way that can’t be ignored.
So in a chaotic world broken by sin, join the God who is the God of protest.
- If we want to protest racism, tutor a child of another ethnicity.
- If we want to protest injustice, pay the court fees of the defenseless.
- If we want young men to take violence seriously, stop teaching boys to celebrate violent sports, media, and entertainment and instead teach them dignity and manners.
- Do for your next door neighbor what you wish you could do for the entire world.
- Have lunch at the house of the guy that everyone resents.
- Pay the hospital bills of the injured person on the side of the road.
- Stand as close as you can to people who are likely to have stones thrown at them.
Taking to social media with inflammatory rhetoric will not create a world of decency and respect. Instead we have to act in such a way that we would be confident that it would be a better world if everyone else did the same thing we’re doing. Or as Jesus put it, we are to do unto others as we would have them do to us. That kind of protest will stop traffic.