You may have heard about the recent Trump protests and feminist marches and the March for Life in the States. As you may read in the news from time to time, there are many different agendas and forms of activism that us North American young people (and older people) are pushing: pro-life, anti-bullying, LGBTQ rights, peace protests, anti-Trump demonstrations, etc. Merriam-Webster defines activism as: “a doctrine or practice that emphasizes direct vigorous action especially in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue activism> activism>” If you believe anything, then you of necessity will have or will engage in some sort of activism in your lifetime.
Now what is the point of this beyond engaging in truisms, beyond saying what everyone has known for millenia? Is the point to get people more involved rather than being a slacktivist? Sure. I believe it is good to get people more motivated. Rape is evil. Crime is bad. Abortion is wrong. Stand up for what’s right! But maybe we need to ask: but why? Why should I stand up? Why should I strive not to be a slacktivist?
Our world looks up to men and women in the world who fought for something better. A better life, a better world. Gandhi wanted to bring peace to India. Mandela sought the rights of his people. Joan of Arc waged war against her enemies. But why? For a good feeling? For a rush of righteousness to the head in a world that is all on its own?
In the Bible there is something called the Hall of Faith. At the end of Hebrews 11, we read: “And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.” But why did they do this?
The men of Scripture saw a better world, a better country. And they fought for that. They were ready for the curses and judgements of their enemies as they sought a better kingdom. Speaking of Abel and Noah and Abraham, Holy Scripture writes: “For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”
No activism will make any sense, or you will get caught up in the wrong campaigns and slogans, unless the love of Jesus is at the center of it all: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Are you looking for a better city? Pursue Jesus. Jesus loved His oppressors and counted it all joy when they put him on a cross. He saw something before Him: glory. As the men around him were picking up stones, the first martyr prayed: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He saw something before him: Jesus sitting on the right of God. The Word of God has the life of this better world written inside it. It has principles for marriage, life, community. It lays out the principles for how we should approach environment and politics and science. Sure, do science for the sake of science and learn from non-Christian scientists, but remember that all things really make sense in Jesus Christ. When you believe in Jesus that makes a difference in the work sphere and family life. The proclamation of the gospel and the transformation of the gospel ought to bring about a drastic change in everything. We pursue peace, fair financial dealings, purity, care for the poor and the downtrodden, forgiveness for sinners, because we know Jesus and we want to share his love with the world. We know Jesus, and we see with our very eyes a better country.
Jesus is greater than Gandhi because Jesus could save His people from their sins. Jesus is the most important factor in pro-life and politics, because He can save the most guilt-ridden young lady to the scummiest politician. He can also save self-righteous activist do-gooders. So next time you do activism, do it with an eye on that better country. Then it will be more than moralism or legalism. Then you won’t get involved in the wrong kinds of activism. Remember, the Church is the one institution that has not died out over 2000 years of Church history. We are still preaching repentance and forgiveness of sins in the Name of Jesus Christ. This is our vision, because Jesus has opened our eyes. Or as C.S. Lewis once said: “I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen. Not because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”