God takes His stand in His own congregation; He judges in the midst of the rulers. How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked (Ps.82:1-4).
The misuse of power has a long and ugly history. We tend to think of political people who have misused their power, such as Henry VIII or Joseph Stalin, but any person who wields power can most certainly misuse it. That can be in the family, in employment, or in the church.
A commonly accepted notion, popularised by Lord Acton (1834-1902), is that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. But power never corrupted anyone. Hitler was a corrupt and evil scoundrel, well before he came anywhere near political power in Germany. Problems of power are inevitably of the heart, for that’s where sin has always resided.
We Christians, who ought to know enough about human nature from scripture, should be vigilant concerning the misuse of power, whether it be from people directly, or their institutions. And let’s face it: the family, the church, and all other social institutions have never been immune from power’s abuse.
We should firstly be vigilant about power’s misuse, because God is. He requires that justice be done, and He will clearly ensure that wickedness is dealt with, in this life or the next.
It may seem to be a rare thing for power to be exercised without corruption, but this is the Biblical expectation, even if it’s uncommon. It is particularly evident in the Biblical texts that relate directly or indirectly to the kinsman redeemer, finally illustrated most perfectly by our Saviour, Jesus Christ. This is shown forth from the above text, along with passages like Isa. 61:1-3 (which Jesus quoted from in Luke 4:18-19), 9:1-7, 11:1-10; Psalm 2; Psalm 72 and Psalm 110.
Furthermore it is evident (if imperfectly) in the examples of Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Jephthah, Gideon, Boaz and David. Job showed us illustrations of this is Job 29:11-17, and 31:13-22.
In entertainment, the notion of the moral hero (or heroes) battling against corrupt opposition has been a traditional and popular tool. This was most evident in the older Westerns of the 50’s and 60’s, such as The Magnificent Seven, Shane, High Noon and A Big Country.
Jesus Christ confronted the abuse of power on earth, and so should we. This means that those in the community such as the weak and fatherless, the afflicted and destitute are worthy of our concern, both for individuals, families and the church.
We must realise in this, that socialist governments love to portray themselves as the great protectors of the poor and needy. A greater lie could hardly be perpetrated, but that has never discouraged them from this deception.
Why is it a deception?
Socialists are humanists. They have no time for God and His Word. Their’s is always a Messianic government without the Messiah: an utter counterfeit. These types of governments ably illustrate the scriptural truth, that “…even the compassion of the wicked is cruel” (Prov.12:10).
They will always portray themselves as the great friends of the poor and down-trodden, but this has always been a chimera. What the poor and down-trodden really need is work, and justice. They do not ever benefit from high tax rates, minimum wage rates, “Family Payments” (which only make the task of governments balancing their books ever more difficult, and encourage immorality), government indebtedness, tariffs (which only make imported goods more expensive for everyone), and government attempts to manipulate the economy through central banking, the subsidy of selected employers, government “economic stimulus packages” and a host of other foolish schemes which may sound good, but are a terrible waste of our money.
The Bible commands,
Do not rob the poor because he is poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate; for the Lord will plead their case and take the life of those who rob them (Prov.22:22-23).
The poor person needs work most of all, and his best chance of getting work is in a truly free-market economy (of which we have none today), when employers do not face punitive measures such as payroll tax, government legislated penalty rates, and Public Holidays, which only make the task of employment more difficult.
Why are Public Holidays so hostile for the poor?
A lot of poor people work in what we call in Australia, casual employment. This means that no work, means no pay. With Public Holidays such as Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Australia Day, Easter (2), Anzac Day, and May Day, many workplaces are closed. Thus employees can have a succession of 4 day weeks, when their weekly pay drops 20%. (I experienced this as late as 2013). Trying to hold a domestic budget together in these circumstances, becomes near impossible.
All these factors work against the poor. This means they should be consistently challenged by Christian individuals and the church.
Why is this? Because the church should be “…the pillar and support of the truth” (I Tim.3:15), willing to confront evil in all its manifestations. The church has a God-given responsibility in protecting and caring for the poor.
Christians and the church have a lot of work to do, if we really want to play our role in delivering the weak and needy. Beginning with the scriptures, we need to take some personal responsibility for ensuring there is justice, through the proper maintenance of contracts between employers and employees, and ensuring that a portion of the tithes given to the church are designated for the poor and needy, as they are Biblically defined.
This takes a lot of good stewardship and careful provision by church elders, but it means that the church can begin to take a far stronger role, as it grows in responsibility and thus authority in the community.
And isn’t that a church you’d want to be a part of?