What happens when civil disobedience stops working?

Loren Covarrubias Blog

Our national government is becoming paralyzed through animosity. It is a reflection of the growing mood in our society. A few weeks back, a man was pulled off a United Airlines flight and it made national headlines. Even I got caught up cheering the man on, as I do not like the way airlines have taken advantage of their customers. Yet, at the same time, I felt a caution inside of me as I thought of what this could mean in the long haul. Would this open the door to constant resistance, or would people use this as an excuse to try and circumvent rules? Although there was a positive outcome from this event, my concern is how issues are increasingly dealt with through civil disobedience. The reality is, it has a negative outcome more often then a positive one, and it creates a system of thinking based on force, rather than the rule of law.

Through the international outreach of our church, I have had the privilege of traveling to third world countries, and I have seen the benefits of the rule of law. Whether it is something as simple as traffic flow, or dealing with foreign government agencies, the rule of law is missing in many places. I remember my first missions trip to Mexico. We were taxied around in the back of a pickup truck. I did not mind the mode of travel until I observed that most people basically ignored traffic lights and traffic signs. It was kind of scary going through a red light, especially being in the back of a truck with no seat belt—and even with the protection of an enclosed vehicle. My friends were on a mission in China; they said when traffic was heavy, it was not unusual for people to decide to drive on the sidewalk. This situation was exacerbated when the traffic signals were not working. At home, we are accustomed to personal regulation when traffic signals fail; typically, we will rotate the right of way and be courteous to one another. This is not always the case in third world countries, where it becomes “everybody for themselves.” This highlights human nature uncontrolled.

Laws not only regulate us, but also teach something about the common good of man versus the individual good. We need restraint through laws, and we need to mature to the point of understanding that it is for the good of all. When laws or rules are unfair, we should deal with the problem by way of proper procedures, keeping ourselves “civil” along the way. Although civil struggle has occurred in our country, and has been very helpful in forming a more fair system, we should see these struggles as a last resort, not a first one.

As a minister, I think it is imperative that we understand the beauty of the wisdom God wants us to walk in. God’s wisdom is not solely motivated by knowledge, but also character. God’s Word teaches us through His wisdom; He is not focused on the individual, but on the common good. His wisdom should motivate us to good conduct, thinking about others and the higher purpose of our choices. Although many are trying to elevate the ways of man, the reality is: living in human wisdom apart from God’s understanding only leads to confusion, evil behavior, and self-exaltation. According to James 3:15-16, we can see the frailty of wisdom through the human condition, “This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” In verses 17 & 18, James differentiates Godly wisdom and understanding, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

I believe that many have set out with the desire to save our country from destruction, but I am convinced that the only way we will have the needed impact is with wisdom from above! Let’s stop thinking that we will get good results when we conduct ourselves beneath our potential. Let’s rise up to fill the void with real answers to bring lasting change!