I have heard lament described as a language of prayer. Have you ever been in a foreign country and you didn’t speak the language? If you tried venturing away from your interpreter, guide, or the comfortable confines of your English-speaking resort, you quickly find yourself baffled and bewildered. You need a common language to connect and communicate. God gave us the language of lament when we are suffering and everything is falling apart around us. A language that acknowledges the state of the world we live in. If we don’t know this language, mostly because our church tradition has neglected it in favor of products that sell better, we will be baffled and bewildered when suffering hits us.
Oppression and injustice happen when a person or a group of people is deprived, usually by law or by force, of basic and equal rights that are allotted to others. Often oppression and injustice use categories of people to afflict their damages. For example, our country was founded and built on laws that allowed for the brutal killing and enslavement of blacks and Native Americans, with many laws explicitly benefiting white people by name. This is oppression and injustice. Refugees are oppressed by something going on in their home country that they are fleeing from in order to save their lives. This is often religious or ethnic persecution and is often related to wars or guerrilla warfare dangers. The oppressed are the ones under the boot of those with power. We get less comfortable talking about oppression and injustice when we start looking at the vast inequities in the United States between whites and people of color. It’s a lot easier to talk about oppression of biblical times and the distant past, but much more uneasy when it’s right under our nose and we may or may not even be aware of it or acknowledge it.
When Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth,'” he is quoting Leviticus 24:20 of the Old Testament. This phrase is sandwiched in between Leviticus 24:17, “Anyone who takes the life of a human being is to be put to death.” and Leviticus 24:21b, which repeats the line. This is the Old Testament command for the death penalty. Jesus then says but I tell you, and goes on to give a new command that is the exact opposite of the death penalty. You can read it for yourself above.
Want to take some steps beyond your #GeorgeFloyd social media post but don’t know where to start?
Racism 101 – First Steps – Defining Racism
This is a simple challenge to Christians who will be receiving stimulus money as a part of the United States Coronavirus Stimulus Package:
If you don’t need the money, give it to someone who does.
Episode 9 compares the “Poverty Gospel” to the “Prosperity Gospel,” two opposites that both end up reflecting legalism. The conversation leads into tackling some very tough words of Jesus, and the ageless debate between faith and works.