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Written by Jim Jordal   
Thursday, 14 August 2014

TAKING SIDES

By Jim Jordal

 For he (the oppressor) has said, "By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I have understanding: and I have removed the boundaries of the peoples, and have robbed their treasures. Like a valiant man I have brought down their rulers. My hand has found the riches of the peoples like a nest, and like one gathers eggs that are abandoned, have I gathered all the earth. There was no one who moved their wing, or that opened their mouth, or chirped."

 Isa. 10:13-14, emphasis mine

Passive response to great injustice places one on the side of oppressors who depend upon the fact that almost never will victims unite in opposition to their enslavement. As Isaiah says above, oppressors pride themselves on stealing the treasures of the people as one might steal eggs from a nest. They have “gathered all the earth,” while the victims failed to move their wings or even chirp in alarm.

Why is the American public so silent concerning great evil perpetrated by financial and political leaders mightily abusing their power? Why do “good” Christians vigorously defend those who have robbed their nests? Why does no one within Christian churches having access to thousands of instructive Scriptures bother to enlighten parishioners concerning the egregious evils present in our society?

I think it’s because we haven’t been instructed in all parts of God’s will and way. We are sufferers struggling in the darkness of tradition and ritual while the world as we know it declines into chaos. And still nobody peeps!

“Injustice will not end until those who are not harmed become as incensed as those who are harmed (author unknown). How long before we who are largely uninjured by oppression arise in anger against the perpetrators of evil?

We continuously hear of the benefits of unity and cooperation as preferred means of settling disagreements. But these attributes are effective only if there is serious effort by both sides to modify their positions enough to reach agreement. If you remember, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain thought he had reached understanding with the forces of evil when he returned from the Munich conference in 1938 with this disastrous statement: “I believe I have found peace in our times. Herr Hitler has vividly assured me that once the Sudeten question is settled, that is the end of his territorial demands in Europe.” So Chamberlain and his fearful allies chopped up the newly-created (1919) nation of Czechoslovakia in the vain hope that Hitler was truthful and malleable. How wrong can you be?

We found the same thing when we attempted to negotiate in the first part of 1945 with Russian dictator Joseph Stalin at Yalta and Potsdam. In each case, he had no intention of doing anything but tricking us into giving up Eastern Europe and sharing fruits of war in the Far East.

Tyrants and dictators only smile at our efforts to pacify them. They don’t understand negotiation as a process to reach agreement, but only as a method for asserting their own claims to power.

Somewhere along the line we Christians must take sides in the struggle against injustice and oppression wherever they occur. Politically we must continuously “inform the debate” as Jim Wallis says, with biblical truth. The same is true for economics, where amoral “wisdom” in the form of free market worship maims and crushes large parts of humanity. And in our institutions of religion we need to assert what God says against the faulty judgments of humans unreasonably exalted in high places.

Jesus continually pointed out the Pharisees’ error in basing religion on an astounding list of legalities while forgetting the main components of true faith---mercy, justice and truth. Jesus said they taught as doctrines the commandments of men as they scoured the outside of the plate while ignoring the filth within.

When we build our faith solely upon legalities and traditions we unknowingly take sides with groups now using our ignorance and passivity to steal our wealth and security. Failing to protest injustice is taking sides with it. That’s not a fitting posture for Christians.