Read below for a guest post from Ron Sandison. Ron also wrote a guest post earlier this year called “A Mom’s Advocacy for Her Son.”
Luke, a first century follower of Christ, was a physician who wrote a two-volume set. One main theme in his writings was the importance of advocating for the poor, outcast, and innocent (Luke 1:53-54; 4:18-19).
The Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts are apologetics advocating that Christ and His followers were innocent of any crimes against Rome. In Luke’s passion, when Jesus dies on the cross the Centurion praises God saying, “Truly this man was innocent” (Luke 23:47-48). The bystanders who witnessed Christ’s crucifixion beat their breast to display their sorrow at the death of an innocent man.
One of the criminals crucified with Christ mocked Jesus. In response, the other criminal rebukes him saying, “Don’t you fear God, since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:40-41).
Luke advocates Christ followers’ innocence. When Stephen is brought before the Sanhedrin, Luke records, “His face was like the face of an angel” (Acts 6:15). While Paul was awaiting trial before Caesar, he declared to the Jewish leaders, “I have done nothing against our people… the Romans wanted to release me because I was not guilty of any crime” (Acts 28:17-18).
We can learn from Luke’s writings four principles for advocating. These principles are essential for every parent of a special needs child.
Defending the Helpless
The parable of the Good Samaritan beautifully illustrates this truth (Luke 10:25-37). The religious leaders failed to obey the ancient oral law of preservation of life. Preservation of life takes precedence over all other ceremonial laws: Do whatever is necessary to save a soul in need. The priest and Levite ignored the injured man’s desperate cry for fear of ceremonial uncleanness. The Samaritan with compassion helped the man, bandaging his wounds and taking him to the inn. The weakest voice deserves the greatest defense.
Using Every Available Resource
Jesus teaches this principle in the Parable of the Shrewd Manager (Luke 16:1-9). A master accused his manager of wasting his possessions. The manager, fearing the loss of employment, decides to advocate his cause by winning the favor of his master’s debtors. Shrewdly, he thinks to himself, “I will lower the amount my master’s debtors owe, so that they will love me and welcome me into their homes.”
Jesus concludes the parable, “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the peoples of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than the people of the light. I tell, you use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into the eternal dwelling” (Luke 16:8-9).
The Essenes at Qumran, who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, referred to their isolated community as the people of light. This community was isolated by living in caves and having limited contact with the outside world. Their leadership forbidden the community to use any Roman coins containing engraved images. An advocator, unlike the community of Qumran uses every resource necessary for his or her child’s cause. Networking is essential because there is power and strength in numbers. A cord of three strands is not easily broken (Ecc. 4:12).
Tenacity and Boldness
Jesus taught this principle in the Parable of the Unjust Judge (Luke 18:1-8). Luke records that Jesus told the parable to teach His disciples always to pray and never give up. In the parable, a widow advocating for her justice did not accept the judge’s refusal. She demonstrated her “chutzpah” by refusing to back-down. Oral Roberts University professor Dr. Brad Young, an expert in Hebrew and Greek, defines chutzpah as headstrong persistence, brazen impudence, unyielding tenacity, bold determination, and raw nerve.* The judge finally realized that this persistent widow would continue to demand justice; so he yielded to her request for the sole purpose of silencing her cry. Charles Spurgeon proclaimed, “By perseverance the snail reached the ark.”
Placing Your Child’s Cause into God’s Hands
Luke teaches this truth in the narrative of the martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7:54-59). The Jewish leaders, outraged at Stephen’s message, dragged him outside the city and stoned him. While being stoned Stephen, prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit… Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And Saul stood there, giving his approval.
Only in Acts 7:55-56 is Jesus depicted as standing at the right hand of God, rather than sitting. Jesus – standing at the right hand of God – demonstrates that God has advocated Stephen’s cause and will bring justice. Jesus brought justice by transforming the persecutor Saul into the Apostle Paul. We can receive justice as we trust God and follow these biblical principles of advocacy.
* Reference: Brad H. Young, Jesus the Jewish Theologian (Massachusetts: Hendrickson, 1995), 171.
Ron Sandison works full time in the medical field and is a professor of theology at Destiny School of Ministry. He has a Master of Divinity from Oral Roberts University and is currently writing, The Christian Concise Guide to Autism. Ron and his wife, Kristen, reside in Rochester Hills, MI, with their pet rabbit, Babs, and cat, Frishma. You can contact Ron on Facebook or email him at [email protected]