To Occupy or Not to Occupy, That Is The Question for Todays Christian Communities, Can or Should We Join?
New York City, Oakland California, Okala Florida, Toronto, Dublin, London, Spain, and Here in my beloved Portland Oregon, the Occupy movement continues on for another day.
And tonight in the city of Portland, men and women huddle together in the cold night air. Just a few days ago they were displaced from their make-shift tent city across from the Court house and now are encamped around the South Park blocks in downtown Portland. Our media outlets for television, radio, and the web are over run with moment-by-moment updates about the current conditions between participants in Occupy Portland and our city’s finest Police Officers.
It’s seems like a repeat of the same story: someone states they are victims of Police brutality, while Officers confiscate another weapon or gas mask. Reports of Anarchist groups from California threaten to join the fight and news footage of smiling Police Officers escorting another Occupier to an awaiting police wagon to the sounds of cheering comrades. It’s an interesting contrast; ‘peaceful objectors’ of Occupy Portland facing off with ‘Officers of the Peace’. With so much peace and good will flowing in both directions, it seems unnecessary to continue further with these events.
So why do they continue with yet another night in the cold, damp, Northwest outdoors? And Just what are Occupiers worldwide hoping to achieve? What do they stand for, and when will they go home? It’s simple, they want change. But change where and how? Will occupying a park or blocking the entrance to local banks bring about global change for poor people worldwide? Some may say... "at least they are doing something, what are YOU doing to empower people?"
In the face of great arguments about the need to solve the problems of a hurting world, The Christian must face the challenge of defining their moral obligation to become involved or not. Do you think Christian people should join the Occupy Movement? Pat Robertson of the 700 Club finds that Christians have no place in the Occupy movement, calling it "formless with no purpose" (Christian Post, 2011), while a new group of Christian's begin to minister as "protest chaplains" claiming "The Occupy movement is about working together..." Who is right?
The Bible clearly states we are to love our neighbor (Mark 12:30-31), champion the rights of the poor (Acts 20:35-38 & Mark 10:21), and help those in need (Matthew 25:35-40). The Occupiers have similar objectives, so how should the Christian respond then? Should we pack our tents, strap on a napsack, and head towards the nearest public park too?
At first, Occupy Portland (and worldwide) seemed to hold promise. The world joined the conversation about justice as protests filled the streets and our television screens. The call was for real, tangible help for those suffereing under the heavy weight of unemployment, lack of health insurance, rampant home foreclosures, and extreme and unjust business practices that would leave the ‘little guy’ out in the cold… Just like occupiers tonight, shivering in bone chilling 30 or below degrees with 90% humidity. This makes for an uncomfortable show of support for the poor. It is a bold move to stand up for people in desperate need; and their sacrifice is noteworthy.
So, what shall the Christian do with the occupy movement? If we read the new testament you may find that some of the modern Occupiers have similar verbiage. The ruling Roman empire was accused of unjustly taxing their constituents and ruling over them with little regards to their needs. The Zealots were determined to overthrow them and restore their freedom by any means necessary (Acts 21:38, Acts 5:36-37), They desired to free their people from oppression. Even one of the disciples that walked with Jesus, “Simon”, was considered a zealot. This leads one to believe passion for change is not bad in itself.
In fact, imagine the world we live in today if a passionate minority had not peacefully (or otherwise) objected to slavery, apartheid, taxation without representation, genocide, medical experiments on unknowing people, government corruption, and other events through the ages that robbed people of their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. There are times that we must raise up off our knees and put action to the faith we profess; but is the Occupy movement one of those times?
As we consider our place in this current upheaval, lets consider what we hold as the gospel truth; bearing in mind the goal and objective our passion for change. When we support those who are in need, it must be for love and in love.
Love never goes out of style. It is not a light-weight answer to heavy-duty modern problems either. Love does not require us to live in parks and sleep on benches, but then again it just might... Is occupying someone else's property the answer to shed light on the woes of others, or is it just a nuisance and an excuse for bad behavior?
LOVE IS OUR OCCUPATION!
"'…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27, NIV)
What ever side of the battle you decide; lets challenge one another to take the side that leads to lasting change, one founded on love. Whether you pick up a picket sign and join the march, or find some other means of supporting those in need that does not require one to sleep out of doors on purpose, let it be in love and for love....
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.(I Corinthians 13:2)
- The man does not live who is more devoted to peace than I am. None who would do more to preserve it.” (Abraham Lincoln)
- “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” (Martin Luther King Jr)
- At Occupy Protests, Bearing Witness Without Preaching — Beliefs by Mark Oppenheimer - NYTimes.com
When liberal activists hear “Christian,” they often think “conservative.” So committed Christians at Occupy Wall Street events have different answers to the question, “How Christian should we seem?”
- Occupy Portland closure a tough call for mayor - latimes.com
Portland Mayor Sam Adams is the progressive leader of one of the nation's most progressive cities, but despite his sympathy with the group, his police force dispersed the Occupy Portland camp.
- Occupy Portland teams up with health care reform groups for rally, march for universal health care
Hundreds of people showed up to rally against for-profit health insurance. Several advocacy groups and Occupy Portland joined together because they said the 1 percent controls health insurance companies and many in the 99 percent go bankrupt trying t
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