One of my friends in America read the article just before going to bed. At night she had a frightening dream of being chased and caught to be sold into slavery:
In the dream, I was walking down the street, then someone started chasing after me. The guys who were chasing me in the dream had a whip, and were yelling something about slavery.
So I ran. Then a friend of mine showed up and he ran with me. We hid together. But when the chasers caught up with us, my friend turned me in to them so he could escape. Then I woke up. Awful dream.
I remember more about my bodily reaction (tense) to the dream than the dream itself.
I felt strongly impressed by the Lord that the dream had meaning, and to ask Him to interpret it. So I prayed and asked what this is about and who it is for. He answered that it is for Christians in America.
I thought I should ask for understanding about the meaning of "slavery" but instead I was impressed to ask about the "running away" and trying to hide first.
I asked, "What are we running away from, Lord?"
He said that Christians in America are running away from persecution, and trying to hide from having to suffer with Christ.
The way that we are running is by fighting, particularly by using violence (as has been done in America since the beginning). In waking life fighting seems to be the opposite of running away, but in the Spirit, fighting is often just another form of fleeing from His call to share in His sufferings.
That is what the "friend" represents in the dream. In America we used violence to achieve independence from Great Britain, and ever since have used it as a means of solving disputes. Like the friend in the dream, it *seems* to help us and go along with us. But in real life, it will eventually betray us.
When we use violence to avoid being slaves (as we fear will happen if we don't fight) and secure our "freedom", the acts of violence speak louder than the justness of our cause. As a result, the violence provokes more violence instead of pricking the conscience of the oppressor.
When we take up the sword, we give the other side a reason to hate us and fight. But Dr. King saw nonviolence as a different kind of sword:
"Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals."
("Why We Can't Wait", 1964)
Dr. King's nonviolent vision (which he learned from Jesus) of "a sword that heals" comes from the desire to have love and community with one's enemy rather than seeking to destroy them. Instead of trying to defeat the other person, Dr. King sought to win them to his side. Instead of trying to shame them, he sought to make them neighbors and better people.
But today in America, many Christians are just *tense* like my friend was in her dream. Many are very afraid of President Obama, the government, having their guns taken away, terrorists, the "wrong" person getting into office and more.
Many are talking like they'd better be prepared to fight, like it's important to have guns for this very time and reason. When you hear many Christians talk about the things in the nation that worry them, you can hear the absence of peace.
The author of the article testified that Dr. King and the civil rights leaders taught another way:
"They told us: Whatever you are most afraid of doing vis-a-vis white people, go do it. Go ahead down to city hall and try to register to vote, even if they say no, even if they take your name down.
Go ahead sit at that lunch counter. Sue the local school board. All things that most black people would have said back then, without exaggeration, were stark raving insane and would get you killed.
If we do it all together, we'll be okay.
They made black people experience the worst of the worst, collectively, that white people could dish out, and discover that it wasn't that bad. They taught black people how to take a beating—from the southern cops, from police dogs, from fire department hoses. They actually coached young people how to crouch, cover their heads with their arms and take the beating. They taught people how to go to jail, which terrified most decent people.
And you know what? The worst of the worst, wasn't that bad.
Once people had been beaten, had dogs sicced on them, had fire hoses sprayed on them, and been thrown in jail, you know what happened?
These magnificent young black people began singing freedom songs in jail.
That, my friends, is what ended the terrorism of the south. Confronting your worst fears, living through it, and breaking out in a deep throated freedom song. The jailers knew they had lost when they beat the crap out of these young Negroes and the jailed, beaten young people began to sing joyously, first in one town then in another...
Please let this sink in. It wasn't marches or speeches. It was taking a severe beating, surviving and realizing that our fears were mostly illusory and that we were free."
When oppression, tyranny, persecution and fears assault us, we have to follow the Lamb. He suffered and taught us to respond in love towards our enemies.
But we ran away from that in America from day one, and have twisted Scripture so that we could justify our violence and wars. Listening to the fearful way Christians talk about the government and the world (etc.), one can see that we're still deathly afraid of suffering and being persecuted. We may celebrate the martyrs in our books, but in our lives we are all about fighting for our independence and our rights.
Pray that more and more of us choose to lay down fear of losing freedoms! Pray that we will know His peace instead, whether we have freedoms or not. Pray that we will embrace the Cross instead of trying to escape it. If we run from this, we are slaves even if we are free. But if we join Him in His sufferings, we are free even if we are slaves.