Sin not only resides in the hearts of individuals; it also is woven through the systems and structures of our corporate way of life. Jesus entered into these systems to transform them and he now invites us to join him, offering our voices to bring liberation and reconciliation to our world.
Sin and brokenness not only live in the hearts of individuals, but it also operates on a collective level. As we construct our way of life together, sin infiltrates structures, systems, institutions and governments. Sin is not just housed in the soul. It is systemically woven through our society. This understanding of sin helps us to interpret the book of Exodus.
In Exodus 3, we read about how the Israelites are caught up in a system that is out of order. It is a society that is not working like it is supposed to. They are an oppressed and enslaved people, not flourishing and thriving as image bearers of God. This pattern is found throughout the Old Testament, where there are systems, structures, and institutions operating in such a way that some people are excluded from flourishing.
This systemic undermining of flourishing is not limited to those outside of God’s people — the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, etc. — it is also found within the structures the Israelites operated under. Even those with a relationship with God can foster systems that are unjust. We can be liberated by God and still make choices that marginalize others.
In the New Testament, we read about how Jesus entered into these marginalizing systems, not as one of privilege, but as one of the marginalized, as part of the group that was not flourishing. He belonged to part of the world that had been abused by the systems of the world. Systems, institutions and structures that are either broken, or from their inception, do not recognize and promote the thriving of all is no surprise to God. Neither should this reality be a surprise to us.
We are part of and represent the Kingdom of God, which will outlast all other structures. When we give our allegiance to this Kingdom, we are able to see this up-side-down world for what it is. This provides a context for racism. Since sin is not just in individual hearts, but also a part of the systems of this world, we can recognize the sin of racism that resides in these systems. Therefore, as we enter the world in whatever vocation we have — teachers, executives, police officers, counselors, construction workers — we are not in these vocations to defend the aims of those systems but to promote the Kingdom of God. In the midst of the world’s structures, we are called to be liberators and reconcilers.
God hears the cries of the suffering and the oppressed. God is a liberator and a reconciler. He enters into an oppressed world and offers justice and mercy. He invites us to join him in this work, even though we might feel unqualified.
- Let God liberate your story. God wants to work through who you are so that you can be a blessing to others.
- Let God liberate your soul. God wants to liberate the repulsive parts of your inner being so that you can offer liberation to others.
- Let God liberate your voice. Let God move through you to speak up for liberation and reconciliation.
In this way, we can participate in God’s work of transforming the systems of this up-side-down world, to make the Kingdom of God known in the midst of brokenness and division.
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