….because of some so-called believers there—false ones, really— who were secretly brought in. They sneaked in to spy on us and take away the freedom we have in Christ Jesus. They wanted to enslave us….But we refused to give in to them for a single moment…. [Galatians 2:4-5 NLT)
There’s been a lot of talk about resisting the social and political structures that are currently in place. Many people have awakened to realize that many of the policies that benefit and protect the lives of them and their loved ones are in jeopardy. As a result of folk suddenly being awakened to the splintering of their previously complacent reality, new alliances are being formed, people are mobilizing and the rallying cry has become embodied in the all-too familiar hashtag #resist. But on this day where we celebrate the independence of what Maya Angelou coined as the These Yet to be United States of America, we would do well to not simply resist, but to refuse.
According to Dictionary.com resist means to withstand the action or effect of something. The word refuse, however, means something entirely different. The word refuse means to indicate or express a determination that one is not willing to do or accept something. The difference is significant because the former means that although a resistance is performed, the object of the resistance still exists and functions. It means that we will stand and survive even in the face of that which we are resisting. And that’s a good thing. Don’t get me wrong.
However, when we refuse, it means that we indicate (show, display, demonstrate) that we are not willing to do something. And not only do we indicate our unwillingness to go along with what is wrong, but we act (or refuse to act) based upon our unwillingness. You see, while resisting may or may not be passive, refusing is definitely proactive and carries the sense of a bold and undaunting response in the face of evil.
Paul gives us a marvelous example in the second chapter of Galatians when he encourages the early followers of Jesus to not be swayed by those who spy and infiltrate their community. You see there were outsiders who pretended to have the best interests of the early believers. But in reality, they were trying to take away the believers’ new freedom through Jesus Christ. They were doing this by telling them they had to adhere to many of the previous rules of Judaism. As a result of this false teaching by these false rulers, Paul declares that the infiltrators were there to enslave them—spiritually & mentally. But Paul says “we REFUSED to give in to them for a single moment!” This refusal is important because we know that enslavement of the mind can be far worse than the enslavement of the body. Nelson Mandela is a perfect example. Because although his body was in prison, his mind was still free the entire time he was held captive for 18 years on Robben Island, in South Africa. The En Vogue lyrics are so true, “free your mind, the rest will follow.” (I personally prefer Funkadelic’s lyrics from 1970, but that might be a bit rough for some of you!)
However, on this day where people all across our country celebrate freedom and independence, let’s not forget that there are still many who lack the everyday liberties that those who walk in shoes of privilege enjoy and take for granted. On this Independence Day, I will not only continue to stand and resist injustice and all of its accompanying machinations of evil, but I will openly refuse to accept the evil policies, schemes, and smokescreens designed to blind well-meaning people everywhere. The theologian, Karl Barth has been said that we should always read the bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. These are days where we must keep our ear to the ground and recognize the real fake news! Thank God we live in a society where propaganda and a mass state controlled media is unconstitutional. In the meantime, Happy Independence Day!
By the way, thank you for your prayers and thoughts during my time of surgery and during my period of recovery. I am grateful to God for life and health. And I am grateful to God for you! There is much to be done!