taking the words of Jesus seriously

Cynicism says, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”  Faith says, “You’ll see it when you believe it.”  In Obadiah, verse 11 (the book only has one chapter), we read that the prophet said that when evil takes place, we have to be involved.  We have to take a stand.

In verse 11, Obadiah declares, “On the day that you stood aside, on the day that strangers carried off someone else’s wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you too were like one of them.”  In short, to stand on the sidelines while evil is taking place and do nothing is to be just like those who committed the crimes and the sins against others.

Our voice and involvement is essential when the government takes from those who are in need.  If you do nothing, you are guilty.  When our nation invades countries, and you say nothing or do nothing to protest or try to stop the war, you are guilty.  When gays and lesbians are bullied in schools or in the workplace, and you say nothing or do nothing to defend them and protect them, you are guilty.  Obadiah is clear about this.

You may not be old enough to remember the great riots in Chicago in 1958 at the Democratic National Convention.  A group of yippies (as they were then called) were using violence to protest against the U.S. government and were arrested.  The judge said to Abbey Hoffman, “In this revolution of yours, do you ever consider what’s happening to the innocent bystanders who get hurt or even killed in your revolution?”  Abbey Hoffman answered, “In a revolution, bystanders are never innocent.”  That’s the same thing that Obadiah is saying in verse 11 of that little book of his.

Edmund Burke, a political philosopher of England of a bygone century, once said, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.”  When Christians, and for that part humanity at large, do nothing in the face of evil, we are directly neglecting our fellow human.

About The Author


Tony Campolo is Professor of Sociology at Eastern University, and was formerly on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania. For 40 years, he founded and led the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education, an organization that created and supported programs serving needy communities in the Third World as well as in “at risk” neighborhoods across North America. More recently, Dr. Campolo has provided leadership for the Red Letter Christians movement. He blogs regularly at his own website. Tony and his wife Peggy live near Philadelphia, and have two children and four grandchildren.

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