The Jews in Babylon – a powerless group of exiles, who nonetheless challenged the Empire
Models of challenging powers
Asking awkward questions, e.g. the assumption that economic growth is always desirable. We also need to be willing to question – often Christians seem more ready to simply provide answers.
Modelling creative alternatives, e.g. restorative justice
Protest, e.g. civil disobedience.
Prayer – e.g. Daniel 9, the imagining of an alternative reality.
It’s hard to challenge the powers individually – note that Daniel was part of a group. We need to think about how challenge as a community, and how we resource each other.
How to challenge as a community
We need to understand that we live in a discipling culture. We are being discipled by our culture all the time, our culture wants us to see things in certain ways.
We can be a community of resistance and discernment, e.g. being discerning about the TV adverts we watch.
We need to be realistic about our capacity. We are a sizeable minority, but still a minority. We must be careful not to wear ourselves out.
We need to keep checking our tone of voice. Think again about how respectful Daniel was. We still have a ‘majority complex.’ We need to move from being a moral majority to a prophetic minority.
We also need to consider how we can challenge powers, for the benefit of others. If we only challenge for the benefit of ourselves, how are we different from anyone else? What about love for others and the oppressed? What would be the impact of Christians standing up and saying that they’re distressed about the upset caused to Muslims about a film which is so offensive about the foundations of their faith?
Stories of Challenging the Powers
Christian Peacemaking Teams
Standing up for the disappeared of El Salvador
Making cakes to combat the gang culture of an estate in Bristol.
Freemantle, Australia – clearing utility debts, as a sign of Jubilee
Prayer for Kolkata by its Christian minority
The example of Jeremiah 29, the ‘Letter to the Exiles’: an alternative approach to exile.