As a ministry leader in training, I cannot stay silent regarding the state of American society and the hypocrisy of Christians who do not see the injustice and wrong in the changes impacting the livelihood of others from various beliefs, ethnicity, races, gender, and sexual identities.
This past week I've been drawn back to Jeremiah 9, a text that I explored from the perspective of the marginalized, but this time I'm drawn to the message for the privileged.
Jeremiah 9 exposes Yahweh's reaction to being tired of saving and redeeming his people who claim to love and believe in his covenant, but actions reflect nothing of his ways. The offenders Yahweh addresses are the privileged, the people of the covenant, "Pure Hebrews."
Judah was a place where people of various backgrounds lived, however the Hebrews were the higher tier of society and oppressed those who did not fall into their identity.
The covenant that Yahweh created with the people of Israel was grounded on communal law. That's the whole point of the 10 commandments. How the nation of Israel developed as one under the beliefs and laws of God. This is the same nation that came to know Yahweh as a God of justice and righteousness by being freed from their own mistreatment and oppression, yet here they are in Judah after years of not living out their covenant, oppressing and mistreating others. Natives of foreign lands, people of lower economic status, those who did not fall into their lineage were suffering at the hands of the privileged.
1 O that my head were a spring of water, and my eyes a fountain of tears, so that I might weep day and night for the slain of my poor people! 2 O that I had in the desert a traveler's lodging place, that I might leave my people and go away from them! For they are all adulterers, a band of traitors. 3 They bend their tongues like bows; they have grown strong in the land for falsehood, and not for truth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know me, says the Lord. 4 Beware of your neighbors, and put no trust in any of your kin; for all your kin are supplanters, and every neighbor goes around like a slanderer. 5 They all deceive their neighbors, and no one speaks the truth; they have taught their tongues to speak lies; they commit iniquity and are too weary to repent. 6 Oppression upon oppression, deceit upon deceit! They refuse to know me, says the Lord.
Jeremiah 9 introduces us to God's disgust and vocalized lament towards those who oppress and act out of his covenant.
7 Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: I will now refine and test them, for what else can I do with my sinful people? 8 Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks deceit through the mouth. They all speak friendly words to their neighbors, but inwardly are planning to lay an ambush. 9 Shall I not punish them for these things? says the Lord; and shall I not bring retribution on a nation such as this? 10 Take up weeping and wailing for the mountains, and a lamentation for the pastures of the wilderness, because they are laid waste so that no one passes through, and the lowing of cattle is not heard; both the birds of the air and the animals have fled and are gone. 11 I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins, a lair of jackals; and I will make the towns of Judah a desolation, without inhabitant.
A nation that constantly cried out for help and claimed to be the people of God, but their actions never showed it. At this point Yahweh decided to let Judah as whole fend for themselves. The destruction he had been saving them from over the years could no longer be avoided, and Judah would soon fall to the same fate of Northern Israel.
20 Hear, O women, the word of the Lord, and let your ears receive the word of his mouth; teach to your daughters a dirge, and each to her neighbor a lament. 21 "Death has come up into our windows, it has entered our palaces, to cut off the children from the streets and the young men from the squares." 22 Speak! Thus says the Lord: "Human corpses shall fall like dung upon the open field, like sheaves behind the reaper, and no one shall gather them." 23 Thus says the Lord: Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; 24 but let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord; I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord. 25 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will attend to all those who are circumcised only in the foreskin: 26 Egypt, Judah, Edom, the Ammonites, Moab, and all those with shaven temples who live in the desert. For all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart.
Yahweh commands the women to teach a lament because it will be the only thing helpful in the upcoming days of destruction. Women held no power in this time and essentially were marginalized. Yahweh is advising the privileged to learn from the marginalized and let go of the idea that their privilege will save them. The same oppression and mistreatment they forced upon these marginalized groups would now fall upon Judah as a whole, and no one would be immune. The marginalized would hold the advantage from the viewpoint of knowing oppression, knowing resistance, and knowing survival. If the privilege had any sense, they would do well to listen, learn, and follow the marginalized to survive the impending doom.
How do we know Yahweh is targeting this message to the privileged? Verses 23-26 points it out to us plainly:
23 Thus says the Lord: Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; 24 but let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord; I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord. 25 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will attend to all those who are circumcised only in the foreskin: 26 Egypt, Judah, Edom, the Ammonites, Moab, and all those with shaven temples who live in the desert. For all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart.
Yahweh calls out to the wealthy, the wise, who in this time were priest and other political leaders, and the mighty meaning those of power. Then specifically calls out those who are circumcised, meaning those of "pure lineage", the children of Israel, the children of the covenant. Yahweh makes it clear that while these various nations of the desert may not bear the mark of his covenant, the true offenders are those who do bear the mark of circumcision. They may claim to be his children, but their hearts show otherwise.
SO WHY AM I SHARING THIS?
America has been digging itself into a hole since its conception. Claiming to be one thing for everyone, but it's actions only benefit a few. As a nation full of diversity in every facet, marginalization and oppression are huge issues that fail to be acknowledged and addressed.
More specifically, as a nation that claims religious freedom, the reality is that it's simply not true. Christianity holds the privilege, and I'll further that to say mainstream (white) Christianity holds the privilege, because there are other theologies within American Christianity that fail to be respected and acknowledged.
This is where the issue lies. Too many Christians claim to this covenant, the one the Christ represented, but not many live it out. Just like the Hebrews in Judah, Christians have oppressed and turned a blind eye to plight of the marginalized in its own country. Am I saying all Christians are like this? No. But let's not be in denial that it's still majority.
58% of Protestant/Other Christians voted for Donald Trump
81% of White Evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump
Majority of those who cling to the covenant of Christianity voted for not just a person, but a representation, values, and beliefs of hate, fear and oppression. All of which are in direct violation of what Christ represented and what a "real" Christian is called to be.
Just like the privileged in Judah, the privileged of America has abused the covenant of Christianity to justify its privilege at the expense of the quality of life for others. And just like the Judah, America is now falling to its own destruction because of these things.
To Marginalized Groups
Sadly as we have seen in this first week of the new administration, we are still being persecuted and will still have to fight no matter what. However, that same burden is our strength. We know how to survive, we know how to fight, we know how to resist.
It is totally unfair and there is no justification for this mistreatment. If anything Jeremiah 9 shows that the God the privilege claim to know and reflect, is not the same God of the covenant, and simply calling yourself a Christian isn't enough.
Communal law is the foundation of the covenant, from the Old Testament to the teachings of Christ. The living covenant has always been about loving others fully, treating them with respect, making sure that everyone has, and choosing to love beyond our personal pain, biases, and experiences.
Please know that the majority that claim this covenant are not representative of it. There are Christians out there that stand against injustice, and for the fair treatment of all.
We are in for dark times ahead. Beyond the President, the people we have in the positions of power are not in for the greater interest of all, and the people that voted him in support that. That's the reality of what's happening.
We are witnessing the Abuse of Covenant as a Privilege that is now ultimately leading to Destruction. We are in for the fight of our lives. No generation has escaped the burden of the fight. Now it's our turn.
This is your moment to decide which side you are going to stand on. When history talks about this era, which side will you have to say you stood on. The marginalized are going to fight because we have no choice but to fight. Our survival depends on it!
However, to those of privilege, those who cling to your covenant so dearly, are you going to choose to show it in action?
When God commanded the people to lament in Jeremiah 9, it was much bigger than just grief. Lament encompasses a cry of not just pain and suffering, but one of accountability. It is a way to signify to society that the people are not fine with what's happening. Every march, protest, vigil, petition, safe haven, and act of resistance is a lament being pushed forth to let those of privilege and power know that the people are not OK with what is happening.
To be in communion with God is to be in communion with community. To be in communion with Christ is to be in communion with his love and resistance against hate. Covenant does not equate privilege or immunity from suffering , it demands action of its values for all.
Are you going to say you're a Christian or are you going to BE a Christian?