A few days ago I was siting on an Arab bus on my way to the Palestinian capital of Ramallah when something occurred to me. As I sat there as the only "white" person and presumably the only Christian on the way to a city that is listed as a "Don't be a fool and go there" city on the State Department web-site, I realized that I felt more comfortable in that setting than most bus rides on the other side of the security fence.
It is not because the Jewish Israelis are out to get me or ever have even given me a threatening look, but I think on that bus there is a sense of camaraderie between those of us who are the "underdogs" in Israel. I began thinking about this and realized that I have always wanted to fight against the "bullies" in the world. I guess I struggle with those who have power and who have an incessant need to wield that power. When encountering those who dominate or hurt others because they can, something rises up inside me that makes me want to fight, or at the very least it makes me want to stand alongside those who bear the brunt of that misdirected power.
Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures and the entire New Testament, we see how clearly God also stands with those without power. Do you realize that there are more verses in the Bible about taking care of the orphans and widows (a metaphor for the weak) and those without a voice than about any other subject? Take the examples from Jesus' life, he fought with those in power when it had to do with neglecting the needs of hurting people. (Healing on the Sabbath, eating with "drunkards and sinners", and challenging people to work on justice more than religious appearance were the points of conflict with religious leaders of His day). Unfortunately today, our political leaders, many of our church leaders, our employers, and even "average Joes" consistently find ways to dominate others out of a need for control and power.
Before I sound "holier than thou" I confess that my desire to stand for the weak really is just a gut reaction and unfortunately does not always come from a desire to be like Jesus. But I do think that this is at the heart of God and this attitude is the foundation for pure religion (James 1:26) and one that followers of the Messiah Jesus should embrace whole-heartily.
Rob Bell once said that "people go looking for fights because they are not already in one". What he meant by that is people who want to fight about trivial things or who cause problems with others by misusing their power, do so because they are not already fighting for something more valuable. As for me, I like a good fight so I hope and pray that I can keep the names and faces of those who need someone standing by them in my mind and if I ever become a bully to someone, please remind me of bus 18 to Ramallah.