One of the least talked about stories of the life of Jesus Christ can be found in Matthew 21. This story occurs during the week we call passion or Holy Week, and when Jesus enters the temple. As he enters what is supposed to be a place of liberty and justice for all, he encounters people who have been hired by the government working in the temple. Their job is to serve and be a convenience for pilgrims, but they are now committing crimes. They pick and choose who they will sell short and cheat. And the hardest thing to swallow is that they were being paid for this. So Jesus sees the injustice and immediately turns the tables. Jesus could not stand by and turn a blind eye to obvious injustices being done.
We find ourselves in the land that prides itself on being the land of liberty and justice for all. We have several instances of injustice that can be seen in every aspect of social life. From people being treated badly on their jobs to discrimination in our cities, to police brutality, injustices are everywhere. In recent weeks and even days, as we continue to reel from the instances in Baton Rouge and Milwaukee, we've watched the continuation of tragic events go on. We've seen major athletes sit or take a knee during the national anthem, and we’ve seen the ensuing fallout of those actions.
One of the beloved rights we cherish is the right to protest.
Many religious people expressed their discomfort and disapproval for the protest without first realizing that the purpose of any protest is to cause a level of discomfort in order to bring attention to a situation.
Additionally, these same people failed to take a truly critical look at the validity of the argument being raised. Let’s just
look at the last week, for instance.
A terrorist set off two bombs and planted many more in the New York area 15 years after 9/11, and after a shoot-out with police lived to tell about it. Meanwhile, a 40-year-old man was shot to death while walking to his broken down car and away from police with his hands above his head.
Maybe that instance is too much of a hot-button issue to analyze or even too far away in proximity. But in our own county, where worshippers with a constitutional right to assemble and to worship have the money to purchase property and are held up or stopped from getting the proper documents to do what we all have a right to do. Many will have different stories to justify these occurrences, but if we look at the situation critically, others like these protesting athletes may make the commentary that we find ourselves in the same position as the temple during Jesus time. Certain people have the opportunity to pick and choose the rights (to life, liberty and the pursuits of happiness) others get to enjoy and in some instances get paid for it. Though this may or may not be the case, the question of the protesters becomes, "when will the tables turn?" Not in a sense that the shoe is on the other foot, but when will those who ascribe to the faith of Christianity begin to turn the tables over?
Authentic followers of Christ cannot stand silent and turn a blind eye to injustice. Why? Because Christ himself didn't. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it is bent toward Justice." The only difference between being offended and being convicted is how we receive what's being said. The time for us to move past being offended by the symbols of protesting injustice has passed. The time to act on the content of righteousness is now. It must be noted that righteousness goes beyond being made right with God, it is also in how we deal with each other. No matter our religious walk, we can all follow three simple rules and those rules are: do no harm, do all the good you can, and stay in love with the divine. In following those rules you too can turn the tables. After all, it's the right thing to do.
Rev. E. Chip Owens is a graduate of the Gammon Theological Seminary on the Historic Campus of the Interdenominational Theological Center. He has served as a Senior Pastor in the Covington Area. He is a well sought after preacher and Author that has had the pleasure of sharing the gospel nationwide.