Thursday, June 4, 2020

The Cry of the Oppressed

In our childhood days, we sat criss-cross applesauce in Sunday School while listening to exciting accounts of God rescuing oppressed people.  As adults, we underline our Bibles and share pretty social media images about God's deliverance from suffering.

We love that Pharoah's daughter defied her father's murderous edict against God's people. 
We love that Moses triumphantly led God's people out from under the weight of Egyptian slavery. 
We love that Esther and Mordechai caught Haman in his own web and saved all of God's people from genocide in Persia.

We love it when God rescues the oppressed.  We proclaim it in countless hymns and worship songs.  But I'm afraid - after scrolling social media this week - that a lot of us don't love it or proclaim it when the oppression doesn't oppress us personally.  I'm afraid that when people are being victimized who don't look like us - like me - then we dismiss the very word. Explain it away.

And if this is the case, we should be very troubled.  Not about anyone out there.  But about the person in here.  Me.  You.  Our own selfish, wayward, blame-shifting hearts.

Consider these sacred words:
"Justice, justice you shall pursue..." Deuteronomy 16:20
"...what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"  Micah 6:8
We love these verses until they make us uncomfortable.  But that's exactly what these verses are about.   The fact that God has to command us to do justice means that it doesn't always come naturally.  That sometimes we need to stop and look around and discover oppression in our midst that affects our neighbor. Open our eyes to things we’d never considered before. 

And then we must do something about it. Pursuing justice means that it takes work. That it will cost us something.  That it may {indeed, should} upend our own view of circumstances and replace it with His. 

"Why should you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharoah hardened their hearts?"  1 Samuel 6:6

A gospel-driven pursuit of justice must push us to uncouple from the political pundits of our day and cleave only to our justice-loving, grace-overflowing, merciful, eternal God and to our fellow image bearers.