This morning in my spirit I heard the word “recourse.” As I pondered the word impressions came to me.
The first generation of believers who lived under the thumb of an oppressive form of government like Rome could not imagine a society where recourse for injustice or social change could be addressed at a ballot box. In the Early Church, those who were not Roman citizens and living under Roman rule, had no recourse or path toward civic involvement. If you did not obey Rome’s edict, your head would roll.
In our republic, we have what most first-century believers could not imagine would be possible – recourse to address a social wrong and facilitate change. We know our security as a believer rests in Jesus Christ alone, no matter what cultural freedoms or restrictions we might experience. It would be hard to imagine a first-century believer choosing not to vote or not being involved in creating healthy outcomes for the issues they faced in their culture.
Paul exercised his right of recourse as a Roman citizen when he appealed to Caesar. Most of his fellow believers did not have that same opportunity of appeal. Neither Paul’s rights as a Roman citizen nor the lack of rights for non-citizens was an issue that affected their understanding of their place in God’s Kingdom. It should not affect our understanding either.
Many of the civil rights leaders who lived in my lifetime professed Jesus Christ as their Lord and followed His leading in their unique calling. Their blood was shed under the heel of their oppressors for the right of recourse. Their single desire was to be allowed to take their rightful place as an equal and active participant in our democratic process. They peacefully marched for that recourse, and when it was eventually allowed, they voted. Their votes led to righteous change. What they did was a manifestation of a reforming Kingdom mindset of social engagement through avenues of recourse.
The gift of earthly recourse does not last forever, but when it is present, it is a gift we should steward with appreciation by offering our participation. Ask someone currently living in Communist China if they would like to have recourse or those who lived under the hammer and sickle of Soviet Russia what they would have preferred. Oppressed people who are finally allowed to experience freedom don’t act as cavalier and dismissive as some of us do in the West who have enjoyed freedom without having to pay the price for the recourse it offers.