At one time in this world there was a doctrine known as “The Divine Right of Kings.” Those who adhered to this view believed that kings answered to no one since their rule was ordained by God. This theory tended to be expounded more by those who were kings than the common people; it was enforced because even though there were more “common people” than kings, the kings controlled the armies and the bureaucracies. That practice began to fall apart after the English forced the Magna Carta on the King of England. It was finally destroyed in the American experiment when America proclaimed that all men were created equal and had equal rights given by God.
Those in power up to that time, were able to oppress others and keep them from achieving. When the American Revolution happened, theoretically, the power to use one’s position to oppress others disappeared. But slavery. And the natural, sinful inclination of man to oppress others and put them down. We fought a war to get rid of slavery – which happened. But oppression still exists. Those in poverty still have to overcome the oppression of those in power in our world today. Laws that those who have proper standing never have to worry about can be used to keep the poor and weak down. God has a word on that issue. “How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 82:1-3)
When Jesus walked this earth He spoke grace and mercy to those who were oppressed. His only harsh words were to those who were involved in oppression, to those who showed partiality against the poor. The woman caught in adultery received grace while a Pharisee who invited Him to eat might find criticism. He took this attitude of grace and mercy all the way to the cross when He, who could have been the ultimate oppressor, submitted Himself to the earthly legal system and was placed on the cross at the hands of the wicked. His death, however, brought mercy to the poor and oppressed. Those who suffered under the religious or political systems of the day could look to the sacrifice of Jesus and receive grace and forgiveness. Their place in heaven was promised not as a result of their strength, but as they recognized their weakness without God. We still say that all the ground at the foot of the cross is level – meaning that all people come to know Jesus and develop a relationship with God in the same way.
We have a responsibility as followers of Christ. Just as Jesus cared for the poor and the oppressed, we are to care for the poor and oppressed in our society. Yes, we are all equal in the eyes of the law, but recent events reveal that those who are poor tend to be oppressed under our current legal system. They become easier targets because the wealthy can apply pressure to those in power if anything happens to them. They can afford the better lawyers. The poor meanwhile have no such advocates unless we become advocates for the oppressed. It’s too easy to be quiet though, not rock the boat. In the old musical “Guys and Dolls” the character Nicely Nicely reminds us of the reaction when we do rock the boat. We are told to sit down and not rock the boat. Our God tells us to rock that boat. Uphold the cause of the poor and oppressed.
Lord God, it is far too easy to go along with society. It is far too easy to look the other way when people are oppressed by the powerful. Remind me, Lord, that those in power have no power compared to You. Remind me that I am to work in the power of the Holy Spirit and break chains, not make them.
Here;s the song https://youtu.be/N281kdM6Zew