Last week I was in Archway School doing some “curriculum enhancing” sessions with year 9. They’re just finishing a module called Young People and Other Animals, and I want them to dig into what it means to really stand up for what you believe in…
The world seems full of protest at the moment – anti-Vaxxers in the High Street, Extinction Rebellion on the motorway, Pride in the Park. Making a stand seems like ‘the thing’ to do, and I’m all for it. Feeling passionately enough about something that you want to provoke others’ thinking and change the world should be encouraged. In fact, it’s a large part of what Jesus’ ministry looked like!
I wonder whether Christian young people feel able to stand up for their beliefs as confidently as those who are standing up for other, political, issues? I sometimes get the sense that Christians are a bit scared of upsetting people with their views, or of getting attacked for being different. When I look at other protestors and campaigners I wonder whether they are more convicted of their “cause” than Christians are of their beliefs. Jesus doesn’t promise us an easy life: He’s clear that following Him involves carrying a cross (not like a piece of jewellery but as a symbol of persecution and sacrifice). He warns us to expect objection, scorn and hatred for what we believe. But He expects us to react with love:
But to you who are listening I say: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
I’ve been challenging the year 9s – to stand up for what they believe in with the courage of their convictions. To expect opposition but not be afraid of it. AND allow others to do likewise, respect their position, be someone who listens to their opinion, rather than ridicule it, engage in the conversation. In essence, be like Jesus.