So, I am sitting in my living room with my family and I start looking around. I see my dad in his Lazy-boy with headphones in watching Hogan’s Heroes on his laptop; my mom is playing Brain Age on my little sister’s Nintendo DS; Alex is playing Lego Indiana Jones on his DS that my parents got him for Christmas; Sarah is watching the football game and complaining because mom is using her DS when she wants to play her new Pirates of the Caribbean game. At this moment I sit here with my own headphones plugged into my own laptop with my cell phone sitting right next to me in case anyone felt like texting me at 11 pm. This scene is a very normal one for my low-middle class family.
Yesterday my mom, sister and I went to the store and bought a shit-ton of food, it was all finger food and appetizers. We threw a little New Year’s party for the five of us at the end of the night we still had a good amount of food left. I put it in plastic bags, but let’s be honest… who really wants day old mozzarella sticks? That food will either go bad or get thrown out. Either way it was wasted. This happens all the time with my family, but I’m sure something like it happens with other families in America. We can’t possibly be alone, and statistics say we aren’t. According to Timothy Jones Americans throw away 14% of the food we buy. We do this while there are “kids starving in Africa.” Yeah, ok, we really don’t need another guilt trip about world hunger, but no matter how often it is talked about nothing seems to be changing.
So, through all of this I’ve come to a harsh realization. I have no idea what Jesus is teaching. How can I? I’ve grown up in the equivalent of Ancient Rome. I am one of the oppressors that Jesus rants and rails against. It’s like all this time when He has been teaching on the necessity of loving your neighbors and praying for your persecutors He hasn’t been talking to me, but rather about me. I am part of an Empire. I am an Egyptian in the sense that I am an oppressor. I am the one demanding pyramids be built in the sweatshops in Asia. I am the one who expects more and more bricks be baked out in the coffee fields of Colombia. I am the problem.
So what can a member of the Empire do beyond know that they are working against what God wants and feel guilty about it? Well, for starters I can start to pray and ask God to align my heart with his. Once He has done that I can see clearly with His eyes instead of mine. I speculate that once we have become more in tune God will use me to help the oppressed. It is a lesson we have learned over and over in America. It is one thing for the oppressed to cry out in anguish over an injustice, but when a member of the oppressing party joins the cry people begin to take notice. Take, for instance, the Civil Rights movement. When you look at pictures of rallies you expect to see mass quantities of Black Americans holding picket signs, when your eye happens across a White American it makes you notice them, and in turn you look at the sign they are holding and then you see that they wanted equal rights for their American brothers and sisters. We may be an empire, but we don’t have to perpetuate the exile the rest of the world must feel they are in.
God hears the cries of the oppressed and he is on their side. As a Christian, it is my desire to be aligned with God. That means I am on the side of the oppressed. That is good in theory; the sticky part is how it looks. Right now, I’m basically failing at translating it to action. That’s ok, I’m not perfect. I’m going to continue to pray for God to break my heart in the way his breaks. I want him to present me with opportunities to be one of his faithful people.