Joe responds to Top Ten Acts of Oppression:
It seems to me that it is fairly obvious these are at the very heart of the things that offends God. I’m not too bothered about arguing over the other stuff - which seem to me like straining a gnat to catch an elephant.
For me the problem is that by existing I am deeply entrenched in a lifestyle which oppresses. Like it or not, people exist in terrible conditions so that I can enjoy a lifestyle characterised by the pursuit of leisure.
I can’t speak for God, but I honestly can’t see him blaming people for being within a structure they didn’t create. But I think he will blame us for knowing that our lives are oppressive and not doing much about it.
It is one thing to identify an evil institutional structure and quite another to work out what to do about it. This seems to me to be the great question of our time - if we claim to have something to do with Jesus of Nazareth, how can we continue to live like we do?
I understand your perspective, and I deeply appreciate it. It is one the main focuses of my life since as a teen I spend time in Kolikut (Calcutta) and Bangladesh. I am a part of a wealthy, oppressive nation, and what is my response to it.
I personally don’t feel that God is so much judging us for being a part of our culture, but is calling us to be free of it. Jesus isn’t in the judging business, but in the deliverance business. So when he told the rich young ruler, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor,” he was calling him to be free of what was oppressing him.
So, for me, the response I have to God is less in speaking out against injustice– although I do that– but in living a lifestyle that frees me from being oppressive, a lifestyle that sets me apart from a culture of leisure and spiritual and cultural narrowness.