Earlier this week, I started a blog series on Advent. If you missed it, you can catch up here. I wrote about the condition of weariness, the thrill of hope, and the song to which that is a lyric.
So it seems appropriate for PT 2, to follow in PT 1’s footsteps, and to discuss another lyric further in the same carol.
I love the theological depth of these old carols. Music and lyric is much like story. A composer or writer can convey truth to its hearers in ways that subconsciously stick to us, minister to us, and convince us of things we may not otherwise be convinced of.
This is that.
There is a lot that could be said about this stanza, but I know you are only here for about 2-3 minutes tops, so let’s get to work.
I have had several conversations about the the plight of Christianity and the structures that have existed that have contributed toward oppression. Many have said things that suppose the opposite of this lyric.
“Religion poisons everything”
“Christianity is archaic, misogynistic, and irrelevant.”
“The Church has been responsible for so many injustices and atrocities throughout history”
I realize the ideas proposed in these kind of statements come from a very real place and concern, but I also am a firm believer that ideas are not people, and in this blog, I want to attack the ideas and not the people behind them. In fact, if you are a person behind one of these ideas… Hey! Let’s be friends, I hope you can listen to my idea and not reduce my humanity to a different idea than yours.
G.K. Chesterton had a brilliant rebuttal to this opinion on religion.
A man who speaks coldly on a subject should not be considered an expert on the subject. A man passionate about the subject should be more readily listened to.
I don’t deny that the Church throughout history has had some blemishes and contributed to some awful things. I don’t think any one denies these, we have accepted them, and have been reformed from them. Name another organization that has withstood the test of a time of the Church, which has repented, changed, pivoted, reformed, and re-presented itself to the world over and over.
Furthermore to my point, the carol does not express that “In His Church, All Oppression shall cease.” We follow a person, not a building or body, and yet this person of Jesus Christ has not given up on the Church. In fact, it was His idea, and He is still active and blessing the Church today. I am not better than Jesus, and so I don’t take any joy in pointing to the shortcomings of the Church, I work to build what Jesus died for!
Christianity has ultimately been good for the world.
William Wilberforce – motivated by his Christian faith to put an end to slavery.
John Newton – once a slave trader reformed to abolitionist and writer of the famous “Amazing Grace”
Martin Luther King Jr. – Leader of the Civil Rights Movement, Pastor, used scripture to compel people.
Desmond Tutu – South African Cleric whose work is famous for his contribution against apartheid.
Mother Teresa, Florence Nightingale, CS Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and dare I say Kanye? 🙂
Hospitals, non-profits, charities, orphanages, feeding programs, missions, shelters, and the list goes on are all results of Christians being Christians, Christians being agents of justice (not oppression) in our world.
The only real solution to oppression is through Jesus. His birth announces a beginning to the end of the only oppression that can truly take us out.
He will wipe away every tear.
He will swallow up death.
There will be no mourning, no crying, no pain.
Oppression from a person to another is wrong, and unjust, but also temporary, it pales in comparison to the ultimate oppression that sin and demonic forces can bring.
With Jesus as our model, we know that we will overcome in the midst of our oppression, and that these injustices only identify us more with Him.
Thank you so much for joining in on this Advent journey with me. If you have made it this far, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject or on whether or not Kanye deserves to be on that list.
See you next week for PT. 3