Protest was a big word this past weekend, and really for the past year or two.
Some of the organized protests were, in my opinion, worthy. The March for Life this weekend is absolutely a protest for a worthy cause, as have been some of the peaceful protests for racial reconciliation. Many of the protests seem less logical and much less like protests, instead turning into riots and vandalism. The very word has turned sour for many of us, as evidenced by the anti-protest protests flooding social media. Whether the participants have a right, a need, or a valid cause to protest is something that is being hotly contested. I’m not here to lend my voice to the noise. If you’ve hung around this blog long enough, or if you know me in real life, my opinion on these things shouldn’t be a mystery. What I am here to say is this: as Christians, absolutely we should protest.
We should protest a culture that says if you don’t get your way, scream about it, by teaching our children that they don’t always have to get their way.
We must teach them that people come from all different backgrounds and have all different worldviews and the Christian worldview will rarely be the popular one. Therefore, things will rarely go our way in politics and in the culture at large. We are called to live quietly, to follow Jesus regardless of whether it’s popular, and to radically serve Him by serving others. Many times, this will mean speaking up in defense of the defenseless, working to support laws and lawmakers that protect religious freedom and human life and dignity, or using whatever platform you have to promote biblical values and teachings. Sometimes, it will mean doing none of these things, but simply living out your faith in an authentic way right in your own neighborhood by visiting the sick, comforting the broken, telling your neighbors about Jesus, and showing them His love. Always, it will mean treating those with whom you disagree with decency and respect, even when that is not reciprocated.
We should protest the lie that it’s acceptable to belittle, disrespect, and be rude to those on the “other side”.
We should protest the trend of posting embarrassing or unflattering pictures of government leaders or celebrities caught in candid moments and plastered all over the Internet by refusing to like them or share them. Likewise, we should refuse to participate in the trend of sharing disrespectful memes of people in positions we are called to honor. We must teach our kids, and show them by our own example, that even if we do not agree with the person who takes office, we will respect the office for what it is, and respect the fact that every human is created by God and in His image. Even when someone refuses to acknowledge their own Creator, we will acknowledge His image in them by treating them with respect.
We should protest the war on children by celebrating the ones God gives to us, and the ones He places around us.
We should treat them like the treasures they are, but also respect them by not lying to them in the form of treating them like the center of our universe. We should accept children into our families with joy, however God sends them: biological children, adopted children, foster children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, friends, cousins, even children conceived out of wedlock. Every life is a gift. We should protest abortion by having an answer when the activists ask us where we are when that mother has her baby and needs help caring for it. We should open our homes to the fatherless, to the pregnant teenager who has been kicked out for not having an abortion, to some of the thousands of kids in foster care. We should stop belittling the mothers of six, seven, eight, or more children. We should welcome kids and their parents into our churches, even when they are noisy and dirty and don’t know how to act.
We should protest the lie that says sex can ever be casual.
That pornography is no big deal. That divorce is not wrong. That marriages can be temporary. That children aren’t affected by any of these things. We should live according to God’s standards for sex and gender, and refuse to take part in entertainment choices or jokes or industries that distort what God created as beautiful. We women should respect our husbands and give them room to lead as we long for them to do, and create an environment of acceptance and love for them. Men should love their wives by laying down their lives for them, keep their eyes and hearts only for their wives, and lead them as God designed. Both husbands and wives should be available to meet the needs of the other, communicate desires instead of expecting the other person to read your mind and then resenting them when they don’t, and prioritize their marriage above every other earthly relationship.
We should protest racism by making friends with people who don’t look like we do.
We should stop perpetuating untrue and hurtful stereotypes. We should read and educate ourselves on history and culture and how things got the way they are. We should make sure our kids see people sitting around our table who look different, have different accents, or even worship a god we believe is false. We should model this for our children so that they will not grow up in fear of people who are different, so they will think its normal to have a diverse community of friends, so that they will not carry segregation forward.
We should protest ignorance and gullibility and their devastating results by making sure our kids get a real, solid education in history and civics and how to think critically.
We should talk about current events with them at home to correct the lies and inconsistencies they encounter out in society. We should teach them why we vote the way we vote, why we are red or blue, why we believe government should be big or small. We should talk about whether education or religious liberty, abortion or economics, immigration or environmental policies are prioritized higher according to the Bible and how we make our political decisions. We should model for them how to behave when our candidate loses, and how to behave when our candidate wins. We should help them consider whether they should seek a role in civics or government or the justice system.
We should protest the negative stereotypes of the poor by refusing to make sweeping, blanket statements about those who receive government assistance.
We should understand that not everyone who qualifies for help does so because of laziness or an attitude of entitlement. We should quit belittling them and instead ask how we can help. We should, as individuals and as a church, not just through our taxes, help them with childcare, or job opportunities, or housing, or maybe just by treating them, too, with respect. We should remember that everyone has a story, and maybe start by asking them to share theirs.
We should protest negative Christian stereotypes by refusing to fit in them.
We should love our neighbors, regardless of their lifestyle. We should be known for our principles and beliefs and for the kindness and compassion in which we live them out. We should not shrink back from sharing our faith verbally or from showing it through acts of service and mercy. We should invest ourselves into our local church, making sure that it is a safe place for seekers to find love and truth all in one visit. We should hold our pastors accountable to preach the whole counsel of God and to shepherd their people well. We should look for ways to serve and give of ourselves even when it isn’t convenient.
We should protest against the trend of each generation showing less commitment to the faith than the one before by diligently training our children in the faith of their fathers.
We must refuse to accept the statistics that say children will walk away from the church when they graduate high school. We must protest against a culture that places sports and academics on the family altar, allowing children to become so busy that corporate worship and family worship completely disappear from the schedule, by refusing to allow them to miss church services for practices or homework, and by regularly opening the Scriptures and praying with our kids at home. We must teach them and show them why we believe what we believe and that it really is real. We must show them how God has changed our life. We must be willing to repent when we sin against them and ask their forgiveness. We must be consistent, living out our faith at home on weekdays, not just going to church on Sunday with no impact on the rest of our life.
We should protest the infamous selfie generation by making sure our kids know that the world is not about them.
We must teach them how to serve instead of demand, how to learn instead of be constantly entertained, how to create instead of click screens, how to give instead of amass more stuff, how to be content instead of complain, how to be joyful instead of whine, how to work instead of being lazy, how to commit and be reliable instead of refusing to be responsible, how to stick with something instead of giving up.
We should protest self-righteousness and arrogance and the Mommy-wars by refusing to believe everyone has to live like we do.
We should give lots and lots of grace for families to function in different ways, even Christian families. We should seek friendships with people older than us and younger than us and with a different marital status than us. We should celebrate how much freedom God gives us to live biblical lives in completely different ways.
We should protest against our own flesh by denying ourselves.
We should lay down our rights instead of demanding they be recognized. We should serve instead of demanding to be served. We should forgive instead of holding onto bitterness. We should actively seek ways to love those who have hurt us. We should focus on helping others reach their dreams instead of stepping on them to reach our own. We should cut off our own hand if it causes us to sin. We should grieve more over our own sin than over the sins of others. We should refuse to accept tiredness or frustrating circumstances or irritating people as an excuse for speaking rudely or impatiently. We should be willing to be mistreated as we love, knowing that Jesus was mistreated as He loved, and we must love anyway. We should sacrifice our own comfort and desires so that others will be more comfortable, and we should do it with joy. We should live this way for those in our communities and our country and the world, whether they think like us or not. We should also live this way for those who live in our own home.
Finally, we should protest the lie that we can do any of this in our own strength.
We must cry out to Jesus for His righteousness because we have none. Cry out to God for mercy because we can never measure up. Cry out to others for forgiveness and help and encouragement as we sin against them yet again.
So, yes, we absolutely should protest. And they shall know we are Christians by our love.