God's "Thing" for the Oppressed
May 20, 2017
God has this great "thing" for the poor and oppressed.
Don't take my word for it.
He upholds the cause
of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free,
the LORD gives sight to the blind,
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
the LORD loves
and sustains the fatherless
and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
God loves the broken of this world.
If God seems to have this decided bias for the oppressed, the hungry, the prisoners, the blind, the bowed down, the righteous, the alien (Yes, the alien), the orphan, and the widow, ought not we? If He frustrates the ways of the wicked who oppress these, ought we not be cheering Him on?
Whose side are we on when we align ourselves only with those who can improve our own standards of living and who work only for self-interest?
We must follow our dreams. But we must hold our dreams up before God and ask if they are aligned with His dreams. We must focus on goals, but we must allow God to scrutinize our goals. Perhaps our dreams and goals are too measly for us. perhaps we have settled for something less than God's larger dream. Perhaps our circle of hope is too tightly woven around our own personal desires.
Isaiah said it first in Isaiah 61:1-2 and it is then quoted by Jesus as His life mission in Luke 4:18-19. It is the calling to be God's instrument of peace to the most vulnerable of the earth:
The Spirit of the
Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good
tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to
proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them
that are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of
our God; to comfort all that mourn ...
Jesus stopped at, "...the acceptable year of the Lord ..." not because the rest was not true, but because He was speaking of His own mission in that moment, His dream, His goals, His calling.
Then, in John 20:21, He declares,
" ... Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent
me, even so send I you."
If our dreams, visions, and goals are to be aligned with His, we must be sent as He was sent and go as He went to live our lives for the Greater Dream.
You can claim that He is only referring to spiritual deliverance if you like, but you will be taking great hermeneutic liberties. Of course, it is spiritual. And of course, we are all poor and broken if we get honest with God. The richest among us is needy and poor. But there is no room for dismissing the obvious and simple application that God is concerned for those who are oppressed by wicked people and institutions in this world.
He is biased toward those who are downtrodden. He takes the side of those who do not have the power to take their own side.
For that reason, I am neither a loyal Republican or Democrat. The politics of Jesus is such that is a bit simpler and, at the same time, more complicated. Both parties are sometimes right and often wrong. That is OK because they are human and doing their own thing.
But there is no party or political philosophy with which a Christian can and ought to be entirely comfortable.
For the same reason, I cannot view my goals and dreams for success, be they in business, ministry, social enterprise, or political action, as merely secular pursuits. They are part of a larger view and a bigger dream.
I encourage people to think positively and move toward success as part of this understanding that God wants to lift people and wants to use us to lift people as well. But it is in the context of a deeper understanding and wider perspective.
It is wrapped up in God's grace, in Christ's redemption, in the call to repentance, in the invitation to personal salvation, and in the call of Jesus to follow Him to those places where people are needy and hurting. I cannot be convinced that there is some division between a social conscience and an evangelical message, between a concern for the needy and principles of personal success. They must must be integrated and they must be understood in light of God's big picture.
He is personally invested in the business of lifting people who are broken ... and so must we be, whether our primary calling is ministry through the church, through business, or through public service.
I filter my thinking about many issues through this understanding of the Word and heart of God.