“The likelihood that your acts of resistance cannot stop the injustice does not exempt you from acting in what you sincerely and reflectively hold to be the best interests of your community.”
— Susan Sontag (1933–2004)
I think most of us have seen oppression, and, though it may not have spurned us personally, we rail against it in our minds and hearts. We hate the injustices of abuse and neglect—the abuse of power and the neglect of human beings and of other living things. God hates abuse and neglect, too!
Abuse and neglect are horrendously bad for this reason, amongst others: God requires us to meet the abuse and neglect with a wise form of resistance built in courage—and this is difficult because we may feel like cowards in turning to deny the wrong. But, we can be comforted in the fact that we will want to resist in any event. Ours, then, is to ensure our resistance pleases, and does not betray, God; making matters worse. Resistance is a balancing act.
Our resistance, for instance, must not be about abuse and neglect in response. A godly resistance is a humble, but courageous, resistance.
The Courage In Virtuous Resistance
Is there a more potent or inspirational courage than the pluck of resistance against an oppressor who is bent intentionally toward tyranny? I think not. The European underground resistance fighters of World War II exemplified this courage. They did so many things, by the minute, risking their own lives, for the purpose of others in their midst—and for our egalitarian future as a whole. We find it hard to understand what it would be like to fight for life and risk death on a daily basis.
But we may still identify with the spiritual struggle.
There are compartments of our lives—in due season—where we are flummoxed against the autocracy of despots, whether in the home, in our workplaces, or elsewhere. Injustice does not rest in this world. It comes, and it comes against all of us, and we have a role in gently though firmly resisting as the Holy Spirit would direct us.
The courage of resistance is never about disobeying God, but obeying by acts of appropriate pushback against the injustice. Sometimes it’s vocal and overt, but many times it isn’t.
Because injustice does not rest in this world, we should ensure that it cannot rest—and pray that God may use us, in some small way, to bring these injustices to eventual justice, according to God’s will. This is never about a self-willed agenda. It is about moment by moment obedience. And we never get excited about God judging the authoritarian—no; we pity them, because God’s justice is a sweeping tide of woe; an unrelenting plague of locusts against the demeanour of the oppressor.
We can trust God’s justice to bear itself, at the proper time. In the meantime, our role is of gentle and firm resistance, according to the Spirit’s leading, honouring God and the enemy in the process.
Because injustice does not rest in this world, we should ensure that it cannot rest. May we be used by God to fight these injustices by the good fight of our faith. In this we need much moment-by-moment wisdom. Prayer is an unparalleled necessity.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.