Most of the bible is a history told by people living in lands occupied by conquering superpowers. It is a book written from the underside of power. It’s an oppression narrative. The majority of the Bible was written by a minority people living under the rule and reign of massive, mighty empires, from the Egyptian empire to the Babylonian empire to the Persian empire to the Assyrian empire to the Roman empire.
This can make the bible a very difficult book to understand if you are reading it as a citizen of the most powerful empire the world has ever seen. Without careful study and reflection, and humility, it may even be possible to miss central themes of the scriptures.
as troubling as his words are, i think i believe them.
it makes me wonder how many of the central themes of the bible i see through the lens of the privileged position i enjoy:
- i have lived in a free society my entire life.
- i have stayed consistently employed since i became an adult.
- i eat whatever i want, whenever i want. i always have. many times, much more than i need.
- i waste gallons of water waiting for my shower to get warm.
- i have had medical insurance most of my adult life.
- i have a great education and multiple college degrees.
- i have more friends than i know what to do with.
- i have never experienced religious persecution.
- i have never really feared for my life from an enemy.
- i have consistently had a credit card for emergencies.
- i have never been discriminated against because of my race or sex.
- i have always had enough money to provide for my family.
- i have never felt oppression.
- i have always been self-sufficient.
- even in my personal worst of times, i have always been in the top 6% of the richest people in the world (for the record, any family living on more than $40k is in the top 3%!)
i don’t beat myself up. i don’t go to bed feeling guilty for all the wealth and comfort i have. i truly don’t deserve it. i am fortunate to have been born when i was born…where i was born…to whom i was born…with the gifts and opportunities that were afforded me.
i have tried to make the most of what i was given.
but i am deeply aware that the hard words of discipleship that come from the mouth of jesus and hands of the apostles were forged in a culture that i am unfamiliar with.
…and filtered through a personal lifestyle and experience that will always be at odds with the call of complete surrender to a kingdom not of this world.
what’s an entitled boy to do?