The year was 1856. The sun beat down on the cotton fields and the dark backs of dozens of African Americans bent in manual labor on a plantation in Alabama. An overweight white man sitting in the shade seemed to be the only one not working, but a closer glance revealed the whip and pistol on his belt to be more than pleasantries. His job was not an easy one-he spent day and night keeping the slaves in subordination to him. Someday, he knew, the day could very well come when the slaves would rise up-to shed his blood-because he was the object that stood between them and freedom.That day came.
He was cruelly killed, but the slaves were free to begin their lives over again-and experienced freedom from oppression in ways they had never known before in their lives.
Yet, the institutional church rebuked the slaves for their rebellion and especially their "guiltless" violence. But is the church, even the "Peace" church, any different today? Peace is after all only an American middle class luxury because it too often supports the rhetoric for oppression.
Who is responsible for the violence caused by a situation in which a group of people dare to see themselves as human beings and fight for that right? Too often, we "nonviolent" American churchgoers will point fingers at the oppressed instead of the oppressor. (Just think of Iraq, Oklahoma City, 9-11, Middle Eastern conflict, Vietnam, etc etc etc.)
I suggest it is because we are using "peace" as the end goal instead of seeing it as the method--the catalyst--for accomplishing the real end goal--justice, equity and salvation.
In conclusion, peace has suddenly become the newest "cool" thing to protest, the cause that is easy for everyone to support. How do we regain a message that was clearly so close to Jesus' heart yet has been warped and stolen by popular culture? I've hinted that it is only with giving justice her proper perspective that peace can be a voice for the oppressed. But how does that work and how should we do that--we who live in middle-class America? I'll be exploring this subject more in future postings...but in the meantime I'd like your thoughts on one question:
"Why does the 'peace cause' sometimes encourage oppression and injustice and what should we do to correct this?"