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Powers and Principalities

October 21, 2011
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”. – Ephesians 6:12
As a follower of Jesus, for me there is no more relevant scripture than Ephesians 6:12. For this battle we find ourselves in is not just a protest, it is not just a fight for social justice – it is a spiritual fight. To be assured, being a follower of Jesus is at it’s essence a call to act. When huge banks and wall street gamblers hijack our economic systems and our courts and a significant portion of our legislators reduce democracy to a historical artifact, we must not lock themselves away in our churches or mosques, synagogues and temples.
It has often been asked, “What Would Jesus Do?” I submit that we already know:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has appointed me to preach Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the downtrodden will be freed from their oppressors” – Luke 4: 18-19
Jesus would act on behalf of the oppressed. Oppression is found in many forms. It is the sophisticated racism of the 21st century. It is the economic injustice being suffered by 99% of our citizens. It is the callous opposition to all economic stimulus proposals that involve spending money on jobs by Republican Representatives and Senators.
Yesterday, the latest evidence of our current oppression went to a great extent unheralded. While the world news rejoiced in the death of Gadhafi,  silently Republican and three conservative democrats blocked a floor debate on a key portion of President Obama’s jobs bill, which would have provided states $35 billion to hire or retain teachers and emergency responders. Imagine that the “most deliberative legislative body” in the world refused to deliberate, to discuss the merits of providing funding for states to keep their good teachers and necessary emergency workers. Why? Because it would be paid in-full by a 0.5% tax on multi-millionaires.  
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. I say it again — it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”  – Matthew 19: 23-24
We must follow Jesus out of our churches and into the streets to stand in solidarity with all who fight for justice and fairness. Our faith never tells us to run and hide from evil, but to confront it head on with the knowledge that evil shall not succeed. It is not enough for the church to say “Blessed are the poor”. What are we doing to help them? Do we dare speak the truth to power in love? Are we willing to lay aside our comfort and complacency to be a voice crying in the wilderness against systems of oppression and exploitation? We cannot just say what Jesus said. We must do what Jesus did and is still doing today: setting the captives free. Let us turn our prayers into action. Let us follow Jesus, the Emancipator; the Jesus who suffered no one to be mistreated. The Jesus who would not allow those on the margin to go unseen.
That is the Jesus we have failed to follow out of our churches. This is our  mission: to stand against the powers – against the principalities – against injustice. To say to the enemies of fairness, those friends of the status quo that we will not stand for your blocking progress for the sake of your political aspirations. We will not stand for the continued redistribution of wealth upward;  or as the 20th century prophet Bob Marley said:

If you are the big, big tree

We are the small axe

Ready to cut you down…well sharp

To cut you down – (Small Axe, Bob Marley)

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