A protest is normally associated by disagreement with an idea or action. Many significant political and changes in laws began with a protest of some sort when like-minded citizens were fed up with intolerable situations and worked together for change. However at other times legal and peaceful pickets and marches seldom resolve the issues but do highlight people’s opposition; they should only be undertaken in the right way, for the right reason, ensuring they do not escalate into lawless rioting which is destructive of public and private property.
Any demonstrations should have clearly defined goals and be used only as a last resort after all other avenues of dialogue have been exhausted. Endeavour to discuss issues and arrive at a satisfactory compromise rather than resort to worldly tactics, as most of the time, it is only a failure to meet our desires that causes us to clash and be in disagreement.
Protests can be positive or negative depending on the issue and the ways the protest is expressed. This is determined by the rallying point or motivation that control the masses. The religious leaders of Jesus day stirred up the crowd to shout, “Crucify Him” and brought about the death of Jesus (Mt 27:15-26). Although this brought about God’s purpose the protest was not empowered by justice and lawfulness but ill intent (Act 4:27,28).
Passionate people can be swept up in a mob mentality before they know it and find themselves joining causes without close examination. Thus we must consider if this is a worthy cause that Jesus would support? Will my participation violate any legitimate laws? Do I know and can I support the real motives behind this protest? What message will my involvement send to people outside this protest?
We can voice our concerns over ungodly decrees
(and lied) to Pharaoh when ordered to kill the male Jewish babies; God blessed these God-fearing women (Ex 1:15-21); Rahab directly disobeyed the King of Jericho to turn in the Israelite spies – and her life was ultimately spared (Josh 2:3-6, 6:22-25); three Jewish men would not bow down and worship the idol of the Babylonian king (Dan 3:9-12); Daniel defies the King to not pray to anyone other than the King (Dan 6:6-10); the authorities ordered Peter and John not to preach about Jesus. Their reply was, “Is it right to obey you or God?...We must obey God rather than men” (Act 4:19,20, 5:29). We are to be subject to our governing authorities unless God’s laws conflict with human laws. Only then are we permitted to disobey, our primary responsibility being to God – though we must be prepared to accept any consequences (Dan 3:19-21, 6:12,16; Rom 13:1-5; Heb 13:17). Sometimes those who refused to compromise in their allegieince to God were miraclously saved while others became matrys, prepared to die rather than deny Christ (Heb 11:32-38).
As believers, our primary call is to evangelise rather than get involved in political affairs, yet throughout history Kingdom, values have helped bring radical transformation in the public domain or marketplaces of the world. The Protestant Reformation is one of the most famous protests in church world history that brought about a return to Christianity that more closely resembled that of the NT. When Christians act as salt and light promoting justice, equality and love for their neighbours, along with a passion to see God’s Kingdom come in its fullness, remarkable things can happen.
We are to stand up for the rights of the poor and needy while praying for those who mistreat us (Prov 31:8,9; Mt 5:44). Anger seldom brings about any good outcome unless it is motivated by righteous indignation as when Jesus saw the Temple of God being made a trading market (Mt 21:12,13; Jas 1:20). While the Bible says, “Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” any action taken should not break the human laws for then this becomes lawlessness adding to the problem instead of being part of the solution, so “Don’t do wrong that good may result” (Rom 3:8; Jas 4:17; 1 Jn 3:4).