What sorrow awaits the unjust judges
and those who issue unfair laws.
They deprive the poor of justice
and deny the rights of the needy among my people.
They prey on widows
and take advantage of orphans. (NLT)
In most countries of the world, the gap between rich and poor is widening. Those in power in those countries don’t seem to be too worried about it. Perhaps they believe it is those with money and influence who ensure their own positions of power. And so they favour those who offer such support. Or to put it more crudely, there are few votes in the poor.
Laws can be passed which make it harder for the poor and easier for the rich. There can even be corruption involved. Not just a matter of unwise political decisions but actual dishonesty. And down through the years, followers of Jesus have been complicit in this. We vote into power those who will feather our own nests, and earnestly pray for the poor as we approve of policies that will hurt them.
If this is mistakenly thought to be advocacy for any political cause, think again. Even in Isaiah’s day, God’s people got caught up in what we call “politics”. Through the prophet, God rebukes those in power who misuse their power by doing things which hurt those most in need. Then as now, God pays special heed to the poor and needy. His agenda is neither right wing or left wing. His concern is for justice and fairness, not the immediate interests of those who already have power and wealth.
Christians have a part to play in shaping and reshaping our socio-economic perspectives. Withdrawal is no option, yet involvement invites misunderstanding. Bishop Helder Camara once said, “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist.”