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Should we ever strike? And what about my human rights?

Should I  go on strike? Many are asking this. What guidance does the Bible give?  is there a "right to strike"?

is there a "right to strike"?

Jesus sometimes refused to do what he was told. Pilate demanded that Jesus answer questions. Jesus remained silent. In turn the disciples refused to be quiet when ordered to stop speaking about Jesus.

Despite "human rights", our duty as Christians is to a higher authority than even the government. We respect government not because of its own authority (based on power) but because government is put in place by God for the good of everyone.

This we acknowledge when we pray for our rulers. They too answer to God.

Sometimes a government might step outside its authority - as we learn from the modern witness of Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash   

Desmond Tutu in South Africa, Martin Luther King in the United States and Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Nazi Germany. They were not afraid to make brave decisions.

"Love your neighbour as yourself."

In deciding what God calls us to the ultimate commandment with regard to others is "Love your neighbour as yourself."

So, the question is, what is the most loving course for those to whom I am responsible - those immediately in my care, my colleagues, and the wider community. Often there is no easy answer.

The question is also, "How do I care for myself under God?" Your well-being matters to God who loves you, and it is also important for the sake of those we have responsibility for.

At times like this, Christian character plays a key role. As Christians, God is forming is us "the mind of Christ". (Romans 12:1ff). We need to use our best thinking to come to our decision, trusting in the Spirit of Christ to guide us, listening as well to all of goodwill, in whom Christ will also be at work. Then make brave decisions, trusting in the overflowing grace of God which does not depend on us and is at work even when we get things wrong.

Human Rights?

What about those "human rights"? People often frame the debate in terms of "rights". But this forgets that the only "rights" we have are privileges given by God. It is Christian faith alone that provides any basis for "rights".

The very idea of "human rights" assumes everyone is equally important. This can only be argued if we are all subject to an authority above government - an authority who is love who makes us all equal.

"Rights" assume the Christmas story. The language of "rights" can be useful to a point, but it cannot decide whose rights are most important in a conflict.

Make brave decisions

Then finally, make your decision, trusting in the grace of God, not being fearful.

So, it is not a question of the "right to strike" but rather to ask, "Am I right to strike"? Each of us must make our own decision.

There are often no clear "Christian" views.

There are often no clear "Christian" views. It is clear, it seems to me that those who serve us should be valued far more highly. It is clear that God is always on the side of the poor. It is clear that the Christian should challenge the power of those who control capital. But on the other hand there is the duty we owe to others including society as a whole.

Cop out?

Is this a cop out? Not at all. The scriptures teach us that Christian and godly growth involves learning to take responsibility. God has made us co-workers in Christ, stewards of creation. So God is always wanting to help us grow in responsibility. This means living much of the time with uncertainty (though of course there are times when God does clearly guide, when the stakes are high when human logic and reason fails, or when God is doing the miraculous,)

Give it you best, prayerfully and carefully

So my counsel is - give it you best, prayerfully and carefully, then act courageously one way or the other. Honour and respect those who take a different course. Maybe they too have been making brave decisions. We each ultimately answer to God alone.

And God will be with you. "God with us" - "Emmanuel".

Love, Martin



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