Someone told me a story the other day about a principal in a school who faced a threat of violence. I think it was in Toronto. This principal had suspended a student who happened to be the son of either a gang leader or organized crime figure.
As the story went, the criminal showed up in the principal’s office and said: My son is coming to school tomorrow. I know where you live. I know where your kids go to school. My son is coming to school tomorrow.”
And, the principal let the kid come to school.
My first reaction was, what would Jesus do if He were that principal? The reason we have so little of this kind of thuggery and corruption in North America has been the willingness of people in previous generations to risk their lives for the sake of principle and justice, bequeathing to us a rule of law. Are we all going to acquiesce at the first sign of extortion?
I have wondered what I would do. And I’ve been surprised by the reactions of some I’ve told this story to who have said they totally understand the principal’s decision. After all, his children were threatened.
First of all, I wish I could call down fire like Elijah and have said criminal threatening me be consumed by holy fire on the spot!!!
But most of all, I wish for the love that casts out fear so that I could take a principled stance and not cave in to threats. Do we trust God enough to make a stand? To trust that He will protect our children? Or even if ultimately He did not protect us or our children, to still be willing to die for what’s right? Oh for that kind of faith. Totally a supernatural gift and certainly not something I claim to have.
What if standing there with love, one had a word of knowledge about the deep-seated wounds of this violent bully and stopped him right in his tracks with love?
Is there anything worth dying for any more?
As Kathy Shaidle has said repeatedly when we say we don’t know what we would do in situations like this or like those when a gunman starts telling the young men to leave so he can shoot the women “we make cowardice the default position.”
I keep this in mind when I think about our brothers and sisters in the Middle East, Pakistan, Nigeria and elsewhere who are facing torture and death for refusing to recant their faith. I pray for them. Are we thinking that if we face this kind of persecution we will stand firm and have courage and not deny Jesus because we’ll have the muscle to stand up for the big persecution when we cave on much smaller examples here at home where it is not nearly so dangerous?