We love these pretty red bows in our contemporary sermons and ideas of prayer. But the psalm does not stop here. The transition from verse 10 to 11 feels like taking a stick shift automobile from 5th gear to 2nd. One minute the psalmist is extolling God for rescuing the poor from their oppressor, the next he is writing about his ongoing, brutal oppression. Verses 1-10 paint the picture that God has throttled the oppressors and the poor (and the psalmist, written as one of the poor) are free. Verses 11 and following take us down the dark road of the real, daily, in-your-face oppression that the psalmist is still currently under.
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.
Episode 10 discusses the June 2nd scenario of Pastor David Platt praying for President Donald Trump from the stage of a McLean Bible Church worship service. You probably already have lots of predetermined feelings about this, so rather that write something that will make you listen (if you agree), or dismiss this (if you disagree), go ahead and listen and see if there’s a different way to approach topics like this than you are used to.
I’d be honored if the Babylon Bee made fun of me someday. That’d be a more meaningful “you’ve arrived” moment that the elusive blue check mark on Twitter. The concern I have with the Bee is they are recklessly making fun of and running over marginalized people in a way that dishonors Christ.
A lament My heart is heavy from a Bible that says defend the oppressed and a Church that says just preach Jesus. Just preach Jesus, but don’t preach anything he stood for or taught. I will leave your church if you do. Don’t preach about touching lepers or loving the poor or proclaiming liberty to […]