Today we remember Martin Luther King Jr. and the work God accomplished through him to secure equal freedoms for our fellow American brothers and sisters. He certainly was not a flawless man, but he spoke passionately about a dream that I believe God placed in his heart. Emboldened by the power of God’s Spirit, he stood strong in the face of adversity.
I also consider MLK’s namesake, another Martin Luther, who stood up against the commanding Roman Catholic Church, which had, in a way, spiritually enslaved its members.
Whether religious, political, or physical, oppression riles the anger of God like nothing else. See Jesus in the Temple overturning tables because the people had instituted a corrupt religion, instead of devotion to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. See God in the Prophets become angry with Babylon for its harsh treatment of his people. God had intended to punish them for their sin and motivate them to repentance, but Babylon went too far. Finally, throughout Scripture, we see that God is passionate about protecting the orphans, widows, and strangers.
In the world today, oppression of the vulnerable is rampant. Women and children, and even men, are enslaved in one form or another. Some are forced into sexual slavery. Some are forced into harsh labor. All are violently abused and some are even killed. Some are misled by promises of good wages. Many are simply kidnapped.
God is certainly angry with the oppressors: those kidnappers and traffickers, the men who visit brothels, and the purchasers of women and girls (and boys too). And he becomes frustrated with us, his people, when we sit idly by. We clutch to our liberty and the pursuit of our happiness, while ignoring the silent pleas of countless slaves throughout the world—men, women, boys, and girls who were created in the image of God and whose hope dies every day.
So what can we do? Here are some recommendations:
- Become informed. There are many resources on the Internet to help us learn. In particular, read World Vision’s report.
- Pray that God would break our hearts. As we get to know the Father better, our hearts began to beat in time with his, and what breaks his heart in turn breaks ours.
- Pray for God’s intervention. Fighting the system of slavery in the world seems insurmountable, but nothing is impossible for our God. Pray for those assisting others who are recovering from having been trafficked. Pray for safety and protection.
- Get involved. James tells us that pure religion in God’s eyes involves caring for orphans and widows, all those who are weak and oppressed (see James 1:27). Give financially. Help others become aware.
As long as there is evil in the world, there will be oppression. But the Church and we as Christians are to be light in a dark world. May God’s will be done on earth (and in our hearts) as it is in heaven.