Christians Can’t Be Bystanders

Exodus 23:2
2 Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd.

As part of the Book of Exodus’ “Laws of Justice and Mercy,” this verse reminds us that in order to be just and merciful to others, we can’t just let things happen if we feel that it is against what God wants of us.

But this is a difficult law to apply to our modern lives. Christians do live slightly apart from the world’s rules, overall, and so sometimes it’s more tempting just to say, “Heck with it, let the world mess themselves up–WE’VE got JESUS so it doesn’t matter what they do.” Mob justice and mass apathy terrify us, and yet we feel powerless to speak up or to do anything for fear of being labeled one of THOSE Christians–one of the crazies who more often than not end up on the news for negative reasons.

Being a little isolationist is necessary to avoid the temptations in today’s global society; just as former alcoholics must avoid bars, so do born-again Christians have to avoid places (and sometimes people) who would tempt them back into a lifestyle that does not include a personal relationship with Jesus. But being completely isolated from the world, almost cloistered away and having nothing to do with it at all, is not what God wants either, and this verse tells us that very clearly. God does not want us to stand aside and let injustice and merciless behavior run rampant–He asks for us to step up and speak up, to brush aside apathy and resentment and try to help the world as much as we can. The example of giving testimony in a lawsuit is an example that shows how serious this concern is to God.

Since humans are generally a social species, and we tend to base much of our lives on how other people are living, it stands to reason that other people’s opinions would sway us heavily, despite our faith. We watch TV shows, read magazines, and visit websites that tell us how to live (and think) exactly like we “ought to.” This law doesn’t tell us to become completely worldly like this, but to be aware of what’s going on in the world, and to stand up and be counted if a decision is against what you believe. When we take this stance, of living a faith-centered life while still being aware of what’s going on in the world, we stand ready to seek God’s guidance and speak up when the world begins to tilt out of control.

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