(God extends His benefits
and reward and makes large the blessing of)
“…those who are persecuted…”
(mistreated and used wrongfully)
“…for righteousness sake…”
(for the sake of justice)
“…for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
There are leaders who have gone out of their way to handle abusively those who have tried to address abuses and wrongs. Those who stand up against abuses (not just sexual, but those too) are being sued by churches (see a post I put up yesterday), and leaders are using their power to seek to destroy those who have legitimate concerns…. concerns that have been addressed first privately (for those who are hung up on Matthew 18… albeit out of context, often), and then publicly. Those who address abuse are losing friends and family as leaders use their power to sabotage relationships. Some leaders have gone so far as to ensure that those speaking out have lost their jobs — positions in church, as well as other jobs — including both men and women who speak out.
These abusive leaders who are sabotaging the lives of people standing for truth and justice are leaders many of us look to for guidance. We need to recognize that they cannot lead us into truth or justice until they value it in their day-to-day personal lives. Leading with self-preservation and retaliation is not the way of Jesus. True believers and godly leaders humbly receive correction when they have wronged someone. And when accusations are false, the same humility and honour is expressed. True representatives of Jesus Christ do not retaliate in the face of wrong and persecution, and they certainly do not set out to destroy people’s relationships and livelihoods or cause intentional damage.
When leaders retaliate, it is sometimes misconstrued as a response to persecution. Exposing truth is not persecution, nor is retaliation a godly response to anything; it is self-serving and often linked either to insecurity or to the individual’s guilt; an indication that the allegations are true, not false. When allegations are false, Jesus followers will try to respond with honour. When they respond wrongly, which sometimes they will, they humbly repent and do everything in their power to restore what they have destroyed, or at least acknowledge it. Because often it cannot be restored. Godly leaders are human. They will fail. But they will not blithely go on, having destroyed a person’s relationships or livelihood, or other damage done. Those who do not pause and take ownership are not godly, they are arrogant.
Manipulating, to destroy relationships of those speaking against injustice and bringing them harm, is very different from the fallout that comes from exposing abuse and bringing corruption to light. Often we are told that someone destroyed a person’s reputation by speaking of their sins. That’s utter nonsense. The Bible is full of ‘bad stories’ told openly — think King David, or the Cussing Apostle (Peter) among others — and it didn’t ‘ruin their reputation’ because they walked in humility and did not hide their sins. The sins and crimes committed can destroy a reputation if the offender hides, refuses humble correction and consequences, but telling of their sins and crimes cannot destroy them. It is biblical to expose the hidden thing, and it is biblical to remove from leadership those who do such things. (If leaders are first to have their house in order, don’t imagine for a moment that this begins anywhere but in their own hearts. It has nothing to do with controlling their children).
Sadly, when evil is confronted, we see over and over again as ‘pedestal leaders’ cry victim. They declare they are the victims of heartless persecution. Yet, when looking at what righteousness they are persecuted for, it is merely that injustice, oppression and wrongdoing are being exposed. Matthew 5:10 offers blessing to those who suffer for the pursuit of justice, not those who resist justice being pursued. That’s not persecution. That’s avoiding truth, and heaping injustice upon injustice when there should be repentance.
True leaders rise up for justice. That’s what righteousness is. It isn’t some perfectionist religious performance, religious presentation or other such accomplishment. Righteousness is justice. Justice is righteousness. And God has strong opinions about justice among His people.
Kingdoms are unraveling. God has given us years to repent. And when the exposing started, it was a gradual thing. Now it is snowballing. In each phase, we as ‘the church of Jesus Christ, and churches as institutions and organizations (dare I say, empires and kingdoms with pedestals, too often), have had opportunity after opportunity to humbly acknowledge that the things God hates are thriving among us, and repent. At each phase we have had opportunity to “let justice flow like a river”, not a little stream. Not a wee crick, or some overflow running from a puddle. Not a tiny pond, dug out near the church house to look like justice. But a river, flowing. A river, with momentum. Moving waters. Justice that is does not sit still, but has and offers life to the oppressed.
And we still have that opportunity. Many, including honourable leaders, are rising up against oppression and injustice inside church walls. People are asking for accountability among leaders, and for evil to be exposed. God’s people are rising up, across the nations, to stand for truth and against evil. Those who continue to harbour evil, turn a blind eye to injustice, God will allow consequences to play out.
Note, too, that the scripture addresses, specifically, ‘justice in the courts’ for the oppressed. We say “New Testament, New Testament… that no longer applies!” But we borrow all manner of other Old Testament references when convenient, so this deserves consideration. Where the oppressed are not offered justice, God rejects worship and offerings, and eventually brings the oppressors to destruction. Exile. Nothingness. No kingdoms. No pedestals. The end.
… but always with opportunity to repent in the place of exile, when stripped of all personal glory.
To those standing against corruption, when resistance comes against you for standing against injustice… when relationships are sabotaged… when jobs are lost as a result of corrupt leaders manipulating circumstances… when your church kicks you out for blowing the whistle… leave the outcome of Amos 5 to God. And remember it was Jesus who said, in Matthew 5:10, that God will bring His rewards and benefits to those who suffer for the sake of injustice. And when God speaks, His words accomplish their purpose.
So, rise up in truth. Rise up in defence of the poor and the oppressed. And let justice flow like a river. God has your justice covered.
~ T ~