Holy Agitators

“One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, ‘These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.’ She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, ‘I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’ And it came out that very hour.
But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities. When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, ‘These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.’” – Acts 16:16-21 NRSV

You will know the true nature of a deed by how it reacts to disruption. Disrupt people doing something inherently good and you’ll encounter disappointment. Disrupt people doing something inherently evil and you’ll encounter violence.

In her article, Captive Women in Paradise, Associate Professor Noelani Arista speaks about the violent riots of American and British sailors in the early 19th century. From 1825-1827 the Ali‘i pronounced a kapu on prostitution in Haw/ai‘i. They wanted to put an end to the idea that native women were for sale. This pronouncement did not sit well with sailors who had grown accustomed to buying women. Local missionaries at the time supported the Kapu and shared in the work of disturbing a dehumanizing custom. In response, angry sailors led armed attacks on mission houses in Honolulu and beyond. According to Professor Arista, “missionaries bore the brunt of the sailors misplaced ire at not being able to obtain women for sex.”

The life and death of Christ teach us that applying the values of the gospel will meet resistance. There are powers and principalities that live in the shadows and will fight to remain there. They would crumble in the light of grace.

The resurrection of Christ teaches us that there are no evils which cannot be overcome. Confronting oppressive powers and principalities in the name and spirit of Christ is not a fool’s errand. Love is never futile.

The resurrection reminds us that, in time, the light of grace will heal us all.