Friday, September 3, 2010

Freedom Lies Within

My whole being will exclaim,
       "Who is like you, O LORD ?
       You rescue the poor from those too strong for them,
       the poor and needy from those who rob them." Psalm 35:10

Today’s Reading: Psalm 35-36: Acts 25

This is one of those recurring themes that I find puzzling. If this is true then why are there so many poor and exploited people in this world? Are the poor to wait for this rescuing when they have met their end? Or does this rescue occur in life? Are the poor required to act in such away to open the doors of rescue so that God can move?

From what I remember being taught on this as a child, that last sentence is the key to the argument on this one. How can anything change in someone’s life if they are unwilling to move, to take a step, to take a leap of faith on making that change occur?

Many of the world’s greatest social movements were fueled by the faithful action of the poor. Many folks risked their livelihood and even their lives for the possibility that their children would have a chance at the freedom and prosperity that they could only dream of. But what about the Emmitt Tills of the world? What about the children who starve to death before the regime that they live under can be overthrown? What about those who paid the ultimate price without receiving the fruits of their labor?

This is one of the mysteries behind this notion of redemption for the poor that stays with me. On the one hand we have seen time and time again that when our leadership becomes corrupt and oppresses the poor they eventually fall. But on the other hand it seems like many of those who lived under the thumb of that oppression die there, never having seen the rescue that is suggested in the verse above.

Kinda troubling…

This brings me back to the story of Stephen; the first martyr of The Way, those who first believed in Jesus and carried on after his death and resurrection. He never did get to see the fruits of his labor. He was killed as a result of the oppression that he suffered under. And with his dying breaths he said:

"Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them."  Acts 7:59-60

When I think about this story it makes me realize how much I am unable to see. From the outside I see the hardships of many. But from the outside one cannot see what is in a person’s heart.

True freedom lies within.

Just as Stephen showed through his dying breaths that he was free in the midst of oppression, maybe many of the folks that seem oppressed to me are freer than I have ever been?

No, this does not make me feel better about the conditions that some of us live in, but it does remind me that I cannot possibly see or know the whole truth. Maybe I’ll have an answer to this one day. If I do I’ll be sure to share it with you.  

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