Saturday, June 6, 2020
Christians, are you prepared to hear the voice of the Bible?
Nowhere have I seen more contempt for the teachings of the Bible than in the Christian church. Countless passages that end in, "thus says the Lord," are spurned and neglected wholesale by self-proclaimed Christians all over the United States. My whole life, I have watched Christians forget Jesus and continually fail to see him in the public square. And so my whole body feels shame and embarrassment as I find myself in awe of the utter depravity of the church's witness.
Why? Because the hungry are crying out, the thirsty are calling to you, the stranger is beckoning you, the naked are lying before you, the sick are dying in front of you, the captives are begging for your attention, and nothing can be heard from you but a deafening silence.
Do you even know the words of Jesus? Have you not read Matthew 25?
"The king will reply, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me' Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. ... Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me." (vv.40-43, 45)
Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.
The message is clear! There it is in black and white! You who talk so much about Scripture being the Word of God. You who say things like, "The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it." Here, Scripture cries out to us, beckons us toward justice, and you are blind to injustice and blind to your complicity. I can hardly believe just how blind you really are.
Are you not ashamed? Do you not see your failure? Are you not embarrassed when you think upon how depraved your conscience is?
Do you think you would have listened to the prophets in their time? No, just like those Jesus chastised, "you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets" (Matt. 23:31).
Listen to the voice of Amos, crying out because of injustice just like yours.
Woe to those who are at ease in Zion
And to those who feel secure in the mountain of Samaria ...
Those who recline on beds of ivory,
And sprawl on their couches,
And eat lambs from the flock
And calves from the midst of the stall,
Who improvise to the sound of the harp,
And like David have composed songs for themselves,
Who drink wine from sacrificial bowls,
While they anoint themselves with the finest of oils,
Yet they have not grieved the ruin of Joseph.
(Amos 6:1, 4-6).
Hear this, you who trample the needy, to do away with the humble of the land, ...
The Lord has sword by the pride of Jacob,
"Indeed, I will never forget any of their deeds.
"Because of this will not the land quake
And everyone who dwells in it mourn?
Indeed, all of it will rise up like the Nile,
And it will be tossed about
And subside like the Nile of Egypt."
"It will come about in that day," declares the Lord God,
"That I will make the sun go down at noon
And make the earth dark in broad daylight.
"Then I will turn your festivals into mourning
And all your songs into lamentation;
And I will bring sackcloth on everyone's loins
And baldness on every head.
And I will make it like a time of mourning for an only son,
And the end of it will be like a bitter day."
"Behold, day are coming," declares the Lord God,
"When I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water,
But rather for hearing the words of the Lord,
"People will stagger from sea to sea
And from the north even to the east;
They will go to and fro to seek the word of the Lord,
But they will not find it.
"In that day the beautiful virgins
And the young men will faint from thirst."
Take this warning!
If you are not concerned about the poor and needy, those who are trampled on by the powers that be, if you are not outraged by injustice, if you are not moved to mourning when people are exploited and oppressed, then you are on God's left! To you will God say, "Depart from me." God will bring you to judgment for your indifference to evil.
But if you turn from your selfishness, attune your ears to the cries of the oppressed, and lock your eyes on the needs of the downtrodden, then you will see God's justice. You will see God's victory over sin and death. If you want the kingdom of God, you first have to see with God's eyes, and God pays special attention to those in the world who are suffering and in need.
The prophet Jeremiah tells us that to defend the cause of the poor and needy is what it means to know God (Jer. 22:16). If you do not take up the cause of the poor and needy, then you do not know God. It's that simple.
If you cannot see that "Black Lives Matter" is the cry of the poor and needy, then you should go before God and beg for understanding. You should repent of your blindness and pray for revelation. But don't stop there, because you need to educate yourself.
The history of African-Americans is a history of oppression. It began with kidnapping and enslavement. It continued with racist laws that were designed to keep black Americans in a lower state of being than white Americans. And that racist system is not as old as you like to think. It's not as dead and gone as our racist ancestors.
The death-dealing system that white America built has never stopped oppressing black people. We've made strides, we've righted some wrongs, but too many oppressive structures are still in place. That death-dealing system continues to this day. We see it whenever black Americans are denied justice.
Wake up! Do not continue in your ignorance! Stop neglecting the history of the poor and needy in your country, and start listening to their cries!
"O land, land, land, hear the word of the Lord!"