Wrestling in the Streets
I spent an hour in District Court this morning, not as a participant thankfully but as an observer. I was interested in a case dealing with a mentally challenged young man who inserted himself unknowingly into my life a few months ago. He has struggled with this affliction for many years, been in and out of trouble with the law and society and in and out of mental institutions. Because the proceedings did not start on time I had time to think…and to pray. I felt so badly for the young man, unidentified to me at that point, but likely in the room. I had been told by a police officer that his family had given up on him, unable to control the wide ranges of behavior and unable to deal with the fallout of his destructive actions. Who can blame them?
I watched the attorneys, some of whom I knew, discuss how the legal system should deal with some person who was sitting five feet away from them as if they were a nameless chit in the legal system—he who wins the most chits is the most respected attorney. I watched as an attorney, in a suit he must have slept in for weeks, sat down in front of me and spoke to a young man. I was close enough to pick up bits and pieces of the conversation. The young man spoke in a mumbling voice with thoughts that rambled aimlessly but he assured the attorney that he was going to attend college soon.
I prayed for the young man whom I was there to see as well as the others in the room around me. Each of them was there because of some disagreement with society. It was obvious that this was not the place to come though if you want help. The legal “i’s” and “t’s” may be taken care of in decency and in order, but will anyone walk out of this courtroom, or any courtroom, a better person? Will they walk out knowing that someone, that anyone loves them? I was struck by Paul’s words, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood…” I was struck by how little positive affect the court system can have on the “least of these.”
I wondered what Jesus would have done had He been sitting in my place today? The dregs of society loved to be around Jesus. He was able to show them love and grace mixed with truth when no one else would. Jesus would have known about the “powers and principalities” we wrestle with and He would have known that the court had no power over them.
I went to court today disappointed with the failure of the system to do what is necessary to help a disturbed young man. I came away with the realization that they have no power to help, only to maintain some hoped for balance in the status quo.
It may seem like a strange leap but this reminded me of our present (2016) political climate. This election is not about Hillary and The Donald, it is about powers and principalities. And, just as in the small courtroom in a small town in Northern Michigan, the political system has no power over the evil that surrounds us. The system, whether it is the court system or the political system, does not wrestle with Satan and his minions, Paul says that “we” do that. We are the answer, not The Donald, not Hillary, not Paul Ryan or Harry Reed nor the Judge in Emmet County District Court. We are the ones who wrestle with, or are supposed to be wrestling with, the “rulers of the darkness of this world.” We are to be Jesus, waging war in a battle that we, in our strength, cannot win.
The young man, the one mumbling about going to college, the skinhead with the hoodie, the one sitting directly in front of me, was the one I was there to see today. He did not look evil, he looked like a lot of other young men we would pass on the street every day. He reminded me that today, and every day, I am to buckle on the armor of God and take Jesus to the streets. I am to show the least of these grace and love with a healthy mixture of truth—Just like Jesus did. After all, He is the only answer.
This was written a few years ago, but it reminds me that we are in a battle that is way over our heads. It reminds me to pray for that young man. He was sent off to a psychiatric hospital following those proceedings, but I don’t know where he is now. It reminds me to pray for his parents, for his mom who worries that her son, the one she carried in her womb, may harm himself or someone else, and for his dad who had to choose between protecting his wife and asking his son to not come back home again. The court system has long since moved on from that young man’s hearing…but I can still pray.
Ephesians 6:10-13 KJV Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. (11) Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (12) For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (13) Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.