I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. – Elie Wiesel, concentration camp/holocaust survivor
I have always respected the work of Elie Wiesel. When I came across this quote on a friend’s Facebook page last week I couldn’t help but think of the spiritual implications to us all.
One of the qualities of God that I love so much is that he is a God of the underdog. He is the God of the downtrodden, the outcast, and the oppressed. Psalm 72:4 cries to God saying, “Help him to defend the poor, to rescue the children of the needy,and to crush their oppressors.” Our God cares about and moves on behalf of those who endure suffering and humiliation.
I, the Lord, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness… And you will be a light to guide the nations.You will open the eyes of the blind.You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons. “I am the Lord; that is my name!” (Is. 42:6-8).
The thing is, oppression doesn’t just happen to racial minorities or those who are economically destitute. Spiritual oppression happens to us all and we don’t even realize it.
- “An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him” (Prov. 5:22).
- “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.” ( 2 Cor. 4:4).
- Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death… (Rom. 6:16).
Satan uses our desire to hold us captive. Some of us are in bondage to addiction, unholy relationships, doctrinal legalism, bitterness, lack of forgiveness, fear or pride. The list could go on and on. As the god of this world, our enemy locks us in chains of physical and emotional sins to keep us from the full life that is offered to us by our heavenly Father.
But there is good news. The oppressor has already been defeated. Your chains have already been broken. The price on your head has already been paid. I will let the Word of God speak for itself. Please take a moment to mediate on these words.
Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.
But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Eph. 2:1-10)
Now that is amazing grace. While we chose death, obeyed the devil and followed our sinful nature, God responded with grace. What will your response be? Will you accept the gift of freedom? A mighty God launched the ultimate D-Day rescue mission for your soul. Will you remain captive to your oppressor or take the hand of your Savior and step into the light of true freedom?