CBF Virginia / General CBF

“He has sent me…to set the oppressed free…” by Rev. Mark D. White

The following post is from a series of blogs from the CBFVA Vision Team in preparation for the CBFVA General Assembly 2011. The theme of the assembly is “Beautiful Witness. Being Baptists Together. Doing God’s Mission” and the focal text is Luke 4:18-19.

This week’s blog was written by Rev. Mark D. White, Pastor of Chamberlayne Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia.

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“He has sent me…to set the oppressed free…”
Luke 4:19c

I suspect, if you’re like me, you gravitate towards the heroes and heroines of the Bible. We like to be on the side of the winners, not the losers. When we read about Pharaoh, or the Pharisees, or any other evil doer, we tend to think of our enemies and other scoundrels rather than ourselves.

When Jesus said he was sent “to set the oppressed free,” I bet most of us would see ourselves as the oppressed. Wouldn’t you agree? And there is a good reason we see ourselves in this role since all of us come up short in life because of sin. We all want to experience the liberation offered by Jesus Christ. We want to be set free from the chains of our sin.

But if we are to be true to the Bible and to God, we should also take the time to see ourselves in the role of the oppressor so we might more clearly see how we sin against other people. If we choose to see ourselves in this way, I believe we gain a fuller appreciation for the kind of liberty Jesus offers. This freedom is both a spiritual and physical reality. It is both a present and future reality. Though Jesus had his eyes fixed on heaven, his feet were firmly planted on the ground so he could set people free in the here and now. The widow, the sick, and the poor are a case in point. Jesus spent time with the oppressed because he wanted to liberate them from the poverty, sickness, and homelessness caused by real world people. 

I rejoice in the good news that Jesus has come to set the oppressed free and set me free from my own sin. But when I compare myself to others, I hardly fit the bill of one who has been exploited, kept down, or oppressed. I am white, male, married, educated, and middle class. I am the prototypical person of privilege, and as a person of privilege, I believe God calls on me and others of privilege to be a voice for the oppressed by standing up for justice. We do justice by crossing the lines of race, class, economics, and political affiliation to help those in need. We do justice by weeding out the ways we directly or indirectly cause oppression for others in this world. And when we do justice, we share the presence of Christ with others.

Mark D. White
Pastor, Chamberlayne Baptist Church
Richmond, Virginia

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