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Written by Jim Jordal   
Friday, 04 August 2017

ADVOCACY WRIT LARGE

God presides in the great assembly. He judges among the gods. "How long will you judge unjustly, And show partiality to the wicked?" Selah. "Defend the weak, the poor, and the fatherless. Maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy. Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked."                                                                                                Psalm 82:1-4 WEB

If you have doubts concerning the absolute necessity for strong advocacy in the search for justice, consider the verses you just read. Not one is about charity; all support advocacy. You can’t “defend the weak, the poor, and the fatherless” using only charity. Somewhere you must realize that charity alone will only alleviate the problem, not remove it.

Nor can you “rescue the weak and needy,” except by “delivering them out of the hand of the wicked.” Under charity, they’re still in the hands of the wicked; they just don’t feel it as much.

Notice that the admonitions are delivered to the “great assembly,” where the Almighty God “judges among the gods,” or lesser religious figures. And what does the Supreme God say to those lesser entities, obviously representing domination figures having some power upon earth: Stop unjustly judging and being partial to the wicked; defend the weak, poor, and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed, rescue the weak and needy, deliver them from the hands of the wicked. These are not options; they are the commands of God for those who would obediently follow him.

These are not passive statements made by philosophers, theologians, and psychologists---they are direct commands from God Himself. They are active and powerful, having potential to uproot kings, nations, systems and the entire earth. So how can we lesser church bodies hope to carry them forward?

We can begin by acting in Jeremiah’s prophetic mode when he said that God had touched his mouth. “Then Yahweh put forth his hand, and touched my mouth; and Yahweh said to me, Behold, I have put my words in your mouth: behold, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down and to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant” (Jer. 1:9-10).

It wasn’t charity that Jeremiah used in response to God: It was full-blown advocacy using actions as well as words. Notice the active verbs in God’s charge---“pluck up,” “break down,” “destroy,” “overthrow,” “build,” and “plant.” These words are dynamic and frightening in their scope as we begin to comprehend just how destructive, yet creative, acting on God’s word can be.

If we wish to stop showing partiality to the wicked, we could step back from our almost worshipful attitude toward ultra-wealthy people who often have gained whatever they have at the expense of others. Under God’s values they are not inherently evil, but have become so by abusing and cheating on the way up, and remaining arrogant and merciless as they struggle to maintain their ill-gotten statuses.

Should we choose to defend the weak, poor, and fatherless, we could open our mouths for those having neither voice nor rights in society. We could gently refute the claims of those who persist in blaming the poor for their own predicament. And we could speak up for justice when we hear of the poor and vulnerable being trashed publicly.

If we wished to maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed, we could actively support laws and judgements favorable to them, instead of merely turning our backs when we hear of good laws being mishandled against the poor.

And should we desire to rescue the weak and needy from the hands of the oppressor, we could begin by learning a bit about oppressors and their inroads on peace and justice at all stages of history. The sad story of how oppressor-created systems claiming to provide justice end up doing just the opposite is another story for another time. Meanwhile, hang on because God is still driving the bus.