My devotional book for the week is “Inspired” by Rachel Held Evans. I reviewed her book, “Searching for Sunday” in January. “Inspired” is a different kind of book. It is a Biblical Scholar meets storyteller book. The ideas are mostly scholarship that I have been dealing with since seminary (a long time ago). But Rachel’s chapter on Resistance Stories inspired me to continue thinking about resistance in our current world situation.
Rachel suggests that all the prophetic and apocalyptic materials in the Bible are resistance stories. An oppressed people standing up against The Beast of injustice and privilege. Daniel, David, and Esther became heroes of the Bible by resisting the oppression of lavish governments that rode roughshod over minorities. These oppressive governments are represented by The Beast in Revelation. Whether the Romans, the Babylonians, or the Americans, God stands with the oppressed against The Beast. It is one of the reasons Jesus is always a more radical and politicizing figure than the church likes to admit.
From this idea of personal resistance to The Beast of oppressive government, Rachel draws a line to modern times. She suggests several stories of modern individuals who stand against The Beast like David with his slingshot. This, of course, made me think of the people who inspire me by their resistance to The Beast. I may not always agree with them, or their methods, but I admire their strength and courage in standing up and fighting. People of color who stand against systemic oppression. Lawyers who work for justice. Black people who refuse to be silent. Women who will not sit back and play the little housewife. Immigrants who flock across our southern border because the United States represents hope to them. So many people God is using to continue to challenge the status quo.
Sometimes it seems like The Beast is winning and nothing will every change. Sometimes it seems like we are mired in our sin and stagnant in our prejudices. But whenever I think of Armageddon – the battle of the faithful against the powers of the world – I remember how Scripture describes the battle in Revelation 16:16. The kings of the earth gather at Armageddon but God pours out his wrath and the battle is over without any fighting going on. God wins the day finally and forever without any human effort or intervention.
Jesus Christ, in his death and resurrection, won the battle against death forever. God’s kingdom always, eventually, wins the war against sin, oppression, and injustice. In the meantime, we Christians must fight in the resistance. Underground, subversive, pervasive, persuasive. I do my part in the resistance, telling The Beast “today you will not win where I am.”