I’ve been wrestling with an idea lately. I’ve been reading The Option for the Poor in Christian Theology edited by Daniel G Groody (pronounced Grody) and in the second chapter, written by Elsa Tamez she presents the idea of “God’s rights.”
Now, as she says, this idea might seem “ridiculous” at first, but consider it. The crucifixion of Jesus was not an just a conceptual event which happened in some spiritual plain. We can easily miss it when we talk of Jesus “dying for our sins”—we miss that something terribly unfair and oppressive was actually taking place. Jesus, a Jewish man living under the rule of the oppressive
“God’s rights are being violated in each woman who is beaten, in each child who I abused, and in many others who starve to death because of a world economic system that is wreaking havoc on the most vulnerable.” (p.49)
God’s wrights are being violated because he has chosen to become one with those who are treated the worst. God has chosen a preference to the poor, you can tell this just by counting Bible verses. There is more about the poor in the scriptures than about any of the subjects we seem to take more seriously in American Christianity. His love is, as Craig Keen says it, “on its way to the poor.” Not that he loves them more than the rich, but if one child is crying in the sand box and the other is falling off of the roof, should the crying child be jealous that the father rushed to catch his brother before cradling him? Should he say that the father loves him less? God’s love is on the way to the poor and thus the only appropriate response to God’s love is to be on your way to the poor with it. As the love of God enters in, the only thing to do is go to where his love is going.
So what must we do? We must see, first of all. We must have healthy eyes to see the oppression in the world and then we must ask what causes it. What systems are in place that trample on God’s rights in a specific situation? What can be done to cause drastic enough change that the systems will be unable to adapt? And then, when we can see the systems and the forces, the only response is to act.