Freedom shaped by love is not a passive sentimental response to the world’s violence. It is the key to seeing clearly and moving beyond it. It disarms, dismantles, and disappears.
Jezebel embraces her gods just as Elijah does. When the prophets of her gods are mocked and killed in a most disrespectful way, Jezebel is angered. In the face of death, she remains fearless. Her fearlessness combined with her reverence to her gods in a foreign land makes her an example for contemporary women.
Can the Spirit provide comfort when confronted by such great sin and suffering? I offer a tentative, hesitant yes. A Spirit committed to justice is a Spirit that will lament injustice.
A Pentecostal revival of justice would bear all of the hallmarks of Luke’s story. In quick order the Spirit-driven church of Acts established a community where nobody was lacking. A revival today could bring that same ecstatic joy and establish a community oriented toward justice.
When we attempt to wrest human capital from exploitive, for-profit hands, there will be hell to pay. Does the church have the courage to bear it?
Lydia does not need a man or any other figure of authority to speak for her or to dictate her life. She is her own agent and even Luke-Acts’ Paul has to respect that. She cares for her own, commits to seeking justice, and makes her own choices.
Love should be the interpreting principle in every situation and to every person. Love for God is not expressed by hatred towards a neighbour based on any text.
Jesus’ claim to be the good shepherd is much more than a comforting metaphor. It is a claim to kingship and a clarion call to surrender our wills and follow him to green pastures. His kingship subverts hierarchies. He models followership for us and ushers us into wide-open spaces where we can flourish in his upside-down kingdom.
It is, as we read throughout Acts, about how this epistemological truth has moral and ethical implications, disrupting the naturalized ways in how we relate to each other as consequences of history, religion, or culture. We do not only see Jesus where we expect him, but also in those who are oppressed, who we oppress, and oppose.
As apostles of Jesus, in the face of hatred and violence, Christians are called to embody a culture of healing and transformation. Being witnesses to the risen Jesus Christ is an existential commitment to pursue justice and practice love.
Accompaniment in fear, in suffering, in trauma: that seems to me to be an appropriate call for Christians over the past three Easters. We are still sitting in a messy, middle space – enduring in grief, and hoping for a new day, a new creation.
Luke states with exquisite and unmistakable clarity that God will not hesitate to silence those with power, and give a bullhorn to those without power, even ensuring that—if need be—the creation itself will speak justice into the world.