Oppression And The Bible’s Prescribed Response

Increasingly, society makes clear demarcations between victims and oppressors. These demarcations fall overwhelmingly along racial lines, with white people being shamed solely because we are white. The other groups claiming victimization include women, LBGTQ people, those with disabilities and non-black ethnic groups, but right now Social Justice advocates mostly focus on tensions between white and black people.

Yes, all these groups mentioned have experienced discrimination, hatred and violence that they in no way deserved, and I don’t mean to minimize that fact. I could tell you several stories of suffering I endure because of my Cerebral Palsy. In writing this post, I in no way mean to imply that abuses never happen to members of these communities. They sometimes do. Probably not as frequently and systemically as progressives want us to believe, but let’s not overreact to Woke ideology by denying that there have been abuses.

Woke culture exaggerates these abuses, to be sure. More precisely, it exploits them. By adopting the identity of oppressed victims and labeling white male Protestants as systemic oppressors, this movement essentially tries to oppress people merely because they happen to be caucasian. And male. And cisgender. And Christian. Gracious — according to them, my husband’s only redeeming quality is his disability!

I get how the world embraces the Woke mindset. Rejecting the authority of Scripture, it demands its understanding of justice NOW! America exploited black people, and now the Woke movement demands reparations. If I left the Bible out of the equation, I might jump on the bandwagon. Maybe the disabled could also receive reparations somewhere down the line…? Doesn’t hurt to ask!

The Bible, however, presents a different response to oppression.

Recently, a passage in the epistle of James caught my attention and made me think about how the Lord would have Christians behave toward those who mistreat us. I’d like to look at it with you, and discuss a probable application in light of Critical Race Theory (and Critical Theory in general).

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. 10 As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful. ~~James 5:1-11 (NASB95)

In the first paragraph, James warns oppressors that the Lord knows full well that they abuse people. God won’t overlook their evil. At some point, He will judge them, and He will turn their wealth to nothing. Doesn’t it sound as if God already has plans to deal with the rich who cruelly exploit the poor? His perfect justice, even though not usually experienced on earth, will ultimately prevail. Therefore righteous people need not fight against their oppressors; they have full confidence that the Lord will avenge them.

At this point, James turns his attention back to Christians who have suffered the abuses of unsaved rich people, urging them to be patient until the Lord returns. True justice comes only when Jesus comes again to judge the world and finalize His eternal kingdom. No matter what eschatological position you take, you can trust that He will come again to vindicate His people and punish their persecutors.

The prospect of waiting for Christ’s return to receive justice isn’t popular today, but neither was it popular when Jesus had His earthly ministry. You may recall that Rome ruled the known world during the First Century, causing the people of Israel to long for the Messiah in hopes that He would liberate them from Roman tyranny. Some theologians theorize that Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus thinking that the arrest would force Him into asserting His kingdom and overthrowing the Romans. Just as now, they demanded immediate justice.

So James had to encourage persecuted believers in that time to wait for the Lord to deal with their oppressors in His perfect time rather than on their schedule. They could strengthen their hearts, as we can, with the certainty that He is coming soon.

That certainty should keep us from complaining against each other. Critical Race Theory depends on seeking vengeance against white oppressors (with the assumption that any caucasian is an oppressor as a result of their ancestry), and therefore necessitates complaining against whites. But Christians must recognize their brothers and sisters regardless of ethic identity, and must not complain against them. Such complaining places us in danger of God’s judgment.

Instead of demanding our “rights,” the Lord calls us to wait patiently for His coming, when He will bring ultimate judgment against all who oppress others. As Christians, our hope should never lie in getting revenge or in gaining political power. Jesus is coming! At His return, all will be made right.

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