Recently my attention was drawn to the number of protests taking place around the world. In London, climate protesters had brought parts of the capital to a standstill. In Hong King, increasing clashes between protestors and the police with Pro-EU protestors and anti-EU protestors.
Reflecting on this, I wondered what stirs me enough to ‘stand up and stand out'. Locally I have signed a petition to keep the A&E department at my local hospital open; and honked my car horn in support when driving past placard holders. I’ve signed online petitions in support of various issues and written to MPs and authorities over varying matters. However, it seems a tepid response compared to chaining myself to railings or holding a placard outside a building in the wind and rain. What am I willing to stand up and out for?
Standing out for Jesus
Firstly, I think followers of Jesus need to be a people who are willing to stand ‘out’ for Him. I’m not talking necessarily about walking the streets with a piece of scripture written on a sandwich board or wearing a text on a t-shirt. Rather, how we live and speak should reflect a Christ-like example to the world around us. Jesus said "Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33). Standing out means the words of my mouth would be His, the actions of my hands would be His, the places I go are for Him. As the old song goes ‘Stand up, stand up for Jesus'. Living in a way that honours, speaks out for Jesus and about Jesus.
Standing before God
Secondly is standing before God. I see this in two ways. Live before God, knowing one day I will have to give an account before God for my life. Nothing is hidden from God, He is the one to whom we are accountable (Hebrews 4:13). Also crying out to God in prayer, petition and praise. The psalmist wrote “I cry out to God the Most High, to God who will fulfil His purpose for me”. Bringing myself, burdens and intercessions to the One who hears. Oswald Chambers wrote, “God never gives us discernment in order that we may criticize, but that we may intercede.” That thing we observe that disturbs should be a prompt to bring it before God.
Standing up for the poor and needy
Thirdly, there is a divine call to stand up for the weak. Proverbs 31:9 says, “Open your mouth, judge righteously and defend the rights of the poor and needy”. This is not a mandate just from Jesus, but a call that comes from all scripture. The prophet Amos spoke against Israel for how they had trampled the head of the poor (Amos 2:8; 5:11f.). This leads to God’s call to “let justice roll like a river, and righteousness like a never failing stream” (Amos 5:24). The apostle Paul was instructed by the early church leaders to ‘remember the poor’, something he was very eager to do (Galatians.2:10). Speaking out for the poor and needy is not optional, but rather a reflection of Christ to the world.
These are things we are called to stand up and out for. However, it takes movement. I have never heard anyone, except an MP, say “I’m taking a seat for Jesus”. I fear that in witness, word and work, apathy can be our biggest enemy. We are called to take a stand for Jesus. Let all followers of Christ be willing to take a stand, to stand up and out for him, that we will see Huddersfield transformed for Jesus.