Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name!
All Oppression Shall Cease
These are the lyrics to the third verse of the beloved Christmas song “O Holy Night.” Yet how often do we forget that Jesus came to break chains, that at the very mention of his holy name all oppression must cease?
How often does the church who claims to love Jesus practice loving one another? How much love do we as Christians show to those who are outside our denomination, our social circle, our belief system?
The Oppressed Are My Brothers and Sisters
How often do we discuss the slave as our brother? Instead we enslave and oppress others in the name of profit or perhaps simple expediency.
Look around you! The enslaved and the oppressed surround us on every corner. What are we doing to solve the problem of the lonely man shivering in the cold tonight, a sleeping bag his only shelter? What are doing to feed the children going to bed hungry tonight, inexplicable in a land of abundant food?
How are we helping the struggling young mother, single, with three mouths to feed on a minimum wage job? No matter how or why her husband, or her lover, left her, she is a widow, her man is dead to her. Has God not called us to take care of the widow? James 1:27 says:
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Like the widow, then, the orphans are another for whom we must be concerned. Yet millions of children in the United States wait in group homes and foster homes, praying, dreaming, hoping for a chance at a loving family. What are we as Christians doing about these precious ones? Are we honoring Jesus’ name by allowing these children to remain oppressed in their loneliness and hopelessness? In his name all oppression shall cease.
What about the children and women slaving overseas in sweat shops just so that we in industrialized nations can consume more, ever more, cheap clothes and goods? Does the church ever teach about where their clothes are coming from? Or is this hidden simply because the corporations which employ this slave labor have CEOs and boards that are all good church-going folk?
We make plenty of excuses. “Oh, I can’t possibly help the sweat shop issue. It is too far away, and besides, cheap clothing helps my family budget so much.”
“You know, those foster children have too many psychological issues, and they are so old to adopt. I want a baby.”
“A single mom is not a widow. She is a slut, and she needs to pay for her choices.”
“That homeless man? Well, he’s just a druggie and a drunkard. The Bible says Thou shalt not drink, doesn’t it? I don’t need to take care of him until he takes care of himself!”
Woe, to you, church! Your excuses have gone too far. Just by my name all oppression shall cease. But you defile my name by allowing this oppression to continue unabated day after day. I am coming back to bring justice to the earth.
My sword is against you first, Christian church. You say that you love me, but by your actions, you prove that you know me not. My law is love, but you have turned the law into your own self-interest, putting burdens on the poor which I never intended them to bear. My gospel is peace, but you war against the oppressed and you war against each other. I am about to take my lamp away from you and give it to those more deserving.
Repent, turn from your hateful ways, and practice compassion and holy justice. Proclaim that all oppression shall cease. Work to bring my kingdom of peace to this earth. Then I will be proud to call you my friends.