Should A Christian Strike?
Mr. M . J. Michaux resides in Colorado Springs, Colorodo, and is a frequent contributor to Focus. Some of our readers may not fully agree with Mr. Michaux’s comments and conclusion on this controversial subject. Nevertheless, we invite you to carefully read his article. If you feel there is another side to this sensitive issue, the Editor will welcome any and all courteous responses.
Passing the School District Headquarters the other day, I saw a picket line. In the picket line was a teacher carrying a sign: “WE WANT MORE PAY!” He was a Christian friend. I stopped and asked him, “Joe, what are you doing here?” His reply shocked me. “I’m just trying to get what’s mine!” I responded, “But can a Christian resort to coercion to get what he wants?” “It’s a free country,” he replied, “and we have a right to strike if we want to,” and he walked away.
“Have I missed something?” I thought. “Can a Christian really do these things?” I went to the Bible, and certain definite principles emerged.
A Christian is Commanded to Obey Those in Authority
The question is not whether those in authority are right or wrong, but whether they are in authority. If they are, they are in authority by the power of God, “for there is no power but of God.”1 By resisting them a Christian resists God.2 We are commanded to love another, not to resist each other.3
The basic motive of resistance is the expression of the old nature. The Scriptures declare that we should put to death the deeds of the flesh. Some of these deeds are enmities, strife, contention, disputes, factions.4 By yielding to them, we put ourselves under the authority of the prince of this world.5 We are told to resist the Devil and he will flee from us.6 His ways are not the ways of God.
There is a higher principle involved in the negative principle of non-resistance. “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake… . For so is the will of God, that with well-doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.”7 God wants to accomplish His ends by the commandment not to resist authority. One of the things that amazed His tormentors and persecutors was the fact that Jesus did not resist authority. He did not resist even though they were evil and wrong, and He was completely vindicated by the judge who condemned Him. Three times Pilate said, “I find no fault in this Man.” God wants to use Christians to put to silence foolish men like Pilate, who in his ignorance of true justice proved he was unfit to judge.
A Christian is Commanded Not to Strive
This is the clearest of all the teachings of Scripture. “Let nothing be done through strife.”8 We must not continue with any activity if it generates heat and strife. The whole purpose and design of God is frustrated if our striving is unlawful. “Let us behave properly…not in strife and jealousy.”9
God does not support rebels or rebellion. He said rebellion is witchcraft and stubbornness is idolatry.10 He hates both. The spirit of rebellion is the antithesis of the peace of God. In the very thought of committing it, we give the Devil a base of operations in our lives. David took one look at Bathsheba and rebelled against the sanctity of marriage, and lost his first son in an agony of remorse. Saul heard the bleating of lambs to be destroyed at Amalek, but rebelled against God’s command and had his kingdom torn from him. Achan saw a beautiful Babylonian garment and rebelled against what he thought was senseless destruction, and was himself destroyed with all his family.
Clearly, strife is a work of the flesh. “Immorality…enmities, strife, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissentions, factions… those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God… Let us not become boastful, challenging one another.”11 The works of the flesh will be destroyed in the day of judgment, but meanwhile they bear their wicked fruit of malice, evil, and hatred in this present life.12
In the pastoral letters, designed to bring order and peace in the church of God, godliness of a sort unknown in this world is strongly emphasized. “A servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle to all men… in meekness instructing those that oppose them…”13 This instruction was given, not to take all the fire out of the Christians and make them witless, helpless pawns of men, but rather that they be of most significant help to them. “That they may recover themselves out of the snare of the Devil.” It is the Devil’s trap to stir up the base passions of Christians and cause them to fight against God to their own hurt.
A Christian is Commanded to Keep His Word
Teachers are under contract. There is no honourable way to break a contract. The very foundations of a Christian’s testimony is destroyed if his word cannot be depended upon. He is warned not to swear at all, but simply say “yes” and mean it when he says it, and to say “no” with the same conviction.14 A vow once made should be kept, and he should not let his mouth cause him to sin.15 He cannot blame the angels for his error, for a fool is known by the multitude of his words.
Of all the commands in the Bible, the most mordant is that referring to the truth. “Put away lying. Speak every man truth with his neighbour.”16 There is no middle ground here. There is no loophole, no warning. God hates liars. He cast the Devil, the father of lies, out of Heaven and declared that he and all his children would have their part in the lake which will burn with fire and brimstone.17 How could He who is truth itself share a place in Heaven with that which is of the Devil? Let us, then, not be like the Devil’s children.
A Christian is Commanded to Submit His Case to The Lord
Never take your own case into your own hands, or you will have a fool for a client, is the proverb of the world. Leave room for the wrath of God, is the teaching of Scripture. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”18 If you are under paid, learn your lesson well. Do not put yourself under such a master. There was no coercion in your hiring. Actually, there may have been considerable competition for the job. You sought it. If it has brought leanness to your heart, do not blame God. So runs the argument of the Scriptures.
God is not unkind. He knows the situation fully. Men have been under far worse situations and God has stretched forth His hand and given help. He made this promise to Moses, and it is valid for the Christian in oppressive circumstances. “The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.”19
A young teen-age shepherd stood up one day long ago and defied the enemies of Israel. He boldly declared that all the earth would know that there was a God of Israel that day, and that He did not save with sword and spear, for this battle was the Lord’s and He was going to give it into their hands.20
God is not the enemy of His people. He bears them up on eagle’s wings. They don’t have to fight alone. Many times they don’t even have to fight at all. They should submit their case to His judgment, His directions, and have confidence, for He has never failed, not even once. “Shout; for the Lord has given you the city!” Seven times Joshua and the children of Israel went around Jericho. That last time the promise was made good. When the people “shouted with a great shout, the wall fell down flat.” No victory was ever more complete, more unexpected, more terrifying to those who opposed them.21
A Christian is Commanded to Trust The Lord for All Things
The real test is whether we believe what God has said. Sometimes He speaks to us of assurance, sometimes simply of obedience — unquestioning obedience. If He is to fight for us, He must have unqualified acceptance of His authority. He tells us to be content with such things as we have.22 We are not to be itching with the desire for more. If we need more, He has promised to give it, and in abundance. Ask and see. There is, however, this condition to that promise. We are not to look for the things of tomorrow, but for the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Then, and only then, will he fulfill this promise. If we insist on going our own way, He will let us, but then our dependence must be on ourselves. We have declared our severance from His care and protection. What right do we have to ask help from the giver of all perfect gifts, and help from the prince of this world, the enemy of our souls, at the same time?
Not only is such logic faulty and deceitful, it betrays a wicked heart. The world makes more sense than this, for even wicked leaders demand loyalty to themselves. A divided loyalty is unstable in all its ways.
Cannot a Christian trust God to do that which is right? God is our Father. No good father would give his son a stone when he asked for a fish. Will God do less for His own children than the world?23 “Ye have not, because ye ask not.”24 How absurd to worship an Almighty God, Possessor of Heaven and earth, and yet not have faith enough to ask Him for our needs! If the demand is for more than our needs, we are condemned in the asking, for we betray our greed and covetousness.
My friend Joe is wrong. A Christian teacher, or whatever other line of work may be in view, does not have the right to strike. “Let God be true; but every man a liar.”25 The Christian employee is rather to trust the Lord with all his heart; he is not to lean to his own understanding.26 It is not a question of tithing mint, and anise, and cummin, but as Jesus said, “These things ought ye to have done, and not to leave the others undone.” 27 That is, we ought to carry our Sunday principles into the Monday world of living. It is not enough to pay our religious dues and give lip service to our creeds. Let Christ rule the picket line as well as the chalk line. Let Caesar have his due, the world its honour, but give unto Christ the things belonging to Christ. “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatever I command you.28
“But, Lord, these men are not sinners. They believe in you. They are Christians and they are striking.”
“What is that to thee? Follow thou me.”29
1 Romans 13:1
2 Romans 13:2
3 Romans 13:8
4 Galatians 5:19
5 Romans 7
6 James 4
7 1 Peter 2:13-15
8 Philippians 2:3
9 Romans 13:13
10 1 Samuel 14:23
11 Galatians 5:19-26
12 Proverbs 10:12
13 2 Timothy 2:22-26
14 Matthew 5:33-37
15 Ecclesiastes 5:4-6
16 Ephesians 4:25
17 Revelation 21:8
18 Romans 12:19
19 Exodus 14:14; Deuteronomy 1:30
20 1 Samuel 17:47
21 Joshua 6
22 Hebrews 13:5
23 Matthew 6:7-11
24 James 4:2
25 Romans 3:4
26 Proverbs 3:5-6
27 Matthew 23:23
28 John 15:14
29 John 21:22-23