The Promised Land or Egypt.
There are times when we have a choice. We choose between taking on a cause or staying safe. We might campaign for an environmental cause, but chance getting fired because our company is impacted. We might protest violence against our group or even another group, but chance the counter-protesters hurting us. We might even take an action that sets our whole family against us, such as agitate for women’s rights. It is a choice between staying safe but feeling repressed or stepping out but passing through danger. The danger can come from two types of opposition. The second is harder to deal with than the first.
Sometimes, I have been all excited about serving God in this way or that. I have invited people to a church I belonged to, only to have them read me the riot act on what they think of that church. I have used some tracts explaining Christianity, only to have something about that tract offend them. This is the first type of opposition. I have a group of friends who support me in my endeavors. Though I might make a few changes like getting a better tract, I have learned to stand up to the opposition.
The second type is where you anger your friends. In Numbers 14:1-10, Moses has sent people to look at the land, Canaan. Most of them said that the people were huge and will destroy them. The people said they wanted to return to Egypt where it may have been slavery, but they made a living. When Moses and a few others opposed them, they wanted to stone Moses and company. Here, it was his friends who opposed him, not the people living in Canaan. There is a similar story about David in 1 Sam 29, where David led his people to attack another group. The group waited until they could attack back safely. As a result, David’s cofighters wanted to stone him because of a great loss they suffered because he stirred up this enemy group.
In both these cases, God promised great things if they followed His lead. In the case of David, they obeyed and had everything they lost restored to them. In Moses’ case, they refused and their children received the great promises, but not themselves. God demands that we oppose the oppressors and support the downtrodden, that we fight injustice and demand fair treatment under the law. He promises great and might things. He says, because you trust me, do these things. If you are black, and take a stand, but the white community is incensed and strikes back, what would you do? If then the Black community says that we were safe until you stirred up these people and also comes down hard, could you stay trusting God? What if you are white and you oppose your communities complicity in racism and they strike back for trying to make them see the truth, would you keep going? Substitute Muslim/Christian, Hindu/Sikh, or whatever is your local version of persecution.
If you stop fighting for the rights of the oppressed and opt for a safer solution, that is called returning to Egypt/Slavery. People looked at Uncle Tom from the Book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. To be called an Uncle Tom was to settle for slavery or safety under oppression. If you continue to “fight,” it is said, “you are trusting God to take you to the promised land.” I struggle when it is my people who oppose me. I could use prayer. If you find it almost impossible to stand firm when your family or friends want safety over justice and need prayer, let me know.
The key is to turn to God and get overwhelmed by His love for the oppressed people.