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In kingdom politics, the poor get special attention

7 Dec. 2017 11:58 PM IST

The good Lord created everything there is and gave everything to us for our enjoyment. And they were given in abundance to all of us alike. As such, there was no feeling of greed for more or no temptation to deprive someone else of his share.
But with the entry of sin into the world, selfishness and greed took over mankind, which in turn brought inequality and poverty in the world. Often these socio-economic evils are politically caused. For example, around the middle of eight century B.C., the Jewish rulers and the merchant class formed a nexus and created an economic divide. They took advantage of the common people; they oppressed the poor by seizing their lands; they trampled on honest people for money; they pushed aside those who were helpless; they abused the needy and demanded heavy taxes from them; they hated good judges and honest witnesses; they lived in luxury while the poor lived in abject poverty; they built mansions for themselves and owned extra-buildings; the interior of their homes were adorned with ivory; they slept on expensive beds; they dined on the choicest of meat; they indulged themselves in drinking and partying; they were cheerful about life and felt very blessed … all at the expense of the common people (Amos 5:7-15). Because of all these evils, God finally decided to bring an almost total destruction on Israel: it would be deprived of ruling as a nation and its people would be uprooted by the hands of a pagan nation.
Just like the Jewish rulers in the days of the Prophet Amos, most politicians today run their governments without any concern for the common people. Although they may project themselves as looking out for the welfare of the people, all they want may be power and wealth for themselves. And when they get these, they look only for their own interests and leave behind an unjust situation for others: food shortages, lack of health and educational needs, disrespect of human dignity, discrimination, and daily suffering on the part of the masses. These oppressions and injustices are usually caused by politicians. But instead of taking responsibility for their wrongdoings, they would again use their self-generated problems in the battle for political power, as if they are best equipped to solve them.
In sharp contrast, the God of the Bible has always shown special attention to the poor and the oppressed. At various times, He sent certain human deliverers to rescue those under oppressive rule. He also sent many prophets to warn against wicked rulers who were responsible for creating situations of daily suffering for the weak. Finally, He sent His own beloved Son down to earth to lift up the downtrodden. Although He took upon Himself the form of a poor human being so as to identify with all mankind, He was also the promised King, who came proclaiming the good news for the poor.
When announcing His message of the kingdom (the Sermon of the Mount), Jesus said: “Blessed are you who are poor.” Here the Greek word for “poor” is ptôchoi, which literally means “stooped,” as in when a needy must beg in order to live. Next, Jesus said, “Blessed are you who are hungry.” The “hungry” referred to here are those have been subjected to starvation or deprivation resulting from evil acts of violence perpetrated against them over a period of time. To another group of people, Jesus said, “Blessed are you who weep.” These are those who experience a pain so acute, a suffering so severe, that they cannot but express it through tears. The last category Jesus blessed is “the despised” or “the rejected.” These are people who are marginalized and thus considered to be insignificant in the eyes of the society. But these are precisely who Jesus deeply cares about. 
Perhaps we could ask: Why would God show so much special attention to the poor? Obviously, it is not due to any merit of theirs, much less to any value that poverty might have. Nor does it spring from a regard for their supposed moral or spiritual disposition. Maybe the real reasons for His preferred love for the poor could be as follows:
First, the nature of God demands it. As a just God, He cannot turn a blind eye to the oppressions and injustices meted out by the powerful against the weak. And as a loving God, He cannot bear the misfortunes of the poor who struggle for life and dignity as human beings. This is simply the way God feels.
Second, God takes the side of the poor and the oppressed, because they cannot defend themselves. Often those in power commit institutionalized violence or use laws to justify their actions against the helpless. At times, this privileged class may accept with a certain amount of equanimity the fact of suffering amongst the masses. But when causes are indicated, problems arise, because pointing out the causes inevitably means speaking of social injustices and socio-economic structures that oppress the weak. When this happens, there is resistance.
Third, how we treat the poor and the oppressed is a life test. Not only did Jesus appear two thousand years ago as a poor human being, but He also appears even today in some mysterious ways in the form of the destitute, the poor, the sick, and the oppressed. So, according to the Bible, those who mistreated “the least of these” have mistreated Christ. But someone may still say, “I speak well about Christ to them.” Well, that may be, but the life test is not a verbal test. Rather, it is a test of actions or deeds, that is, whether we really took care of the poor and the oppressed amongst us.
So then, what kind of politics do we want to follow? Would we choose the world’s way which is often characterized by acts of injustices and oppressions against the poor? Or, would we follow God’s kingdom politics which gives special attention to the poor and the oppressed? The choice is ours. 

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About the Author 
Mazie Nakhro, PhD