Questioning social inequalities in the church
“The rich and the poor have this in common: the Lord created them both” – Proverbs 22:2
CONTEMPORARY Christianity is mired in an avalanche of nerve-wracking crises, each capable of undoing the pioneering efforts of the early apostles who played a leading role, as a use of the Holy Spirit, in spreading the gospel and establishing of the Mother Church, as well as the painstaking labors of certain modern fanatics of the faith who have not been stained with the mire of apostasy. Some of the problems plaguing contemporary Christianity include: unchecked worship of Mammon rather than God, rampant power struggles between denominations, invented doctrines promoting materialism, hypocrisy, complacency, hard-heartedness, immorality, vindictiveness, and a plethora of other untoward conduct on the part of some followers of the faith, which tends to contravene the pure teachings of Jesus Christ on these matters. These negative behaviors of both the shepherds and the flock of Christ drew condemnation from the Puritan segment of the faith, as well as criticism from the circular world. However, one particular melanoma that plagues the modern Church, which has been curiously downplayed over the years, is class distinction and inequality. It is a disturbing question that contradicts the fundamental principles of a religion that was established on the human foundations of unity, love and equality of all before God.
That the members of the contemporary body of Christ are separate and unequal in their relationship to one another is a fact that cannot be overstated. This is a troubling question that must be resolved for the Church to move forward. Ideally, the Church should be the earthly representation of the Kingdom of God in its purest form, where all members are considered equal; not a stratified body of first and second class children of the Most High; a place of residence and refuge where the children of God dwell in perpetual freedom, security, love, peace and unity. So how did inequality creep into the Church? To find the origin of inequality in the contemporary Church, we must question the way in which the Churches are constituted. A brief excursion through the evolutionary trajectories of the Church would suffice as an ideal starting point for such an inquiry. The early Church was established by the apostles of Jesus Christ, after his ascension into heaven, following the conclusion of his earthly ministry. It was a united body which provided for the common interests of ALL true believers (Acts 1:14)).
The early Christians saw themselves as equals before God and as having equal rights in the affairs of the kingdom. There was no class discrimination of any kind, for for the first time Christianity introduced into human thought the concept that you could choose your religion regardless of your race and class. Christianity also radically asserted that your faith in Christ becomes your deepest new identity, while not erasing or annihilating your race, class, and gender. Instead, your relationship with Christ has demoted them to the background. It was a radical challenge to the entrenched social str
Structure and divisions of the Judeo-Roman society of the time. The early Church experienced unity beyond social boundaries. It was a community of forgiveness and reconciliation, famous for its hospitality to the poor and the suffering. It was also more democratic, treating all people equally and rejecting double standards of gender and social status. The early church did not fit in with the culture around it, but rather challenged it in love. Can the same be said of its contemporary successor?
However, following the conversion of the defunct Roman Empire to Christianity, which resulted in the birth of the Roman Orthodox Church, the religion eventually transformed into a state religion. This resulted in the infiltration of secular ideas and practices into the administration of the Church. Church and state merged, the system of social stratification which had hitherto remained naturally becoming the basis of relations between followers of the faith on its new frontier. The Emperor, the Pope, the nobles, the priests and other privileged members of the upper class maintained their preeminent positions in society, in the Church.
The Revisionist Protestant Reformation, which challenged and supposedly sought to redress certain doctrinal issues in the mother church, preserved the stratified order. For its part, the contemporary church, although operating separately from the state, has maintained the gap between haves and have-nots. Social stratification in the contemporary church is an overflow of the secular world within which adherents of the faith function in different capacities. In the present dispensation, the establishment and growth of a Church depends on the amount of social weight available to its arrowhead: who it is, what it is, who it knows, how well those it he knows are well placed and how massive their financial muscles are. are. Thus, when these Churches are finally constituted, most often thanks to the goodwill of its wealthy members, who make significant donations in cash and in kind, the less privileged members, with less material stakes, are relegated to the background; they are doomed to invent figures, nothing more.
Again, membership in most contemporary churches is defined by your social position: What are you in society? Who are your parents? What is your material contribution to the Church? Thus, the richest, the most influential, whatever the source of their wealth, are more recognized in the Church than those of lower social status. This is why unscrupulous elements are placed at the front in some houses of God, while commoners, some of whom are actually more dedicated in their service to God, are relegated to the back. This is why most positions in the Church—knights, dames, deacons, deaconesses, committee leaders, and others—are given to the great and powerful, regardless of their spiritual standing with God. In most contemporary churches, the poor are viewed and treated with contempt and contempt. They cannot see their shepherds on short notice, even in an emergency, unlike their wealthier counterparts, who have direct access to the Potentate.
The poor must go through protocols to access lesser Church services, while the big guns can quickly get anything they desire, including prayers, with the snap of their fingers.
When the poor give away their widow’s power, which is the product of their honest labor, they are ridiculed for supposedly stealing from God, while those who hijack, kill and maim for a living are revered for tiny fractions given of their ill-gotten wealth. as an offering to the Most High God.
The Church has inadvertently become one of the main centers of the atrocious class war between the haves and the have-nots, which runs counter to Christ’s teachings on justice; that is, the pursuit of what is right according to what God says, and not what society and people say (Micah 6:8). Unlike Jesus who recognized differences, some contemporary shepherds of the flock relate to their members on the basis of distinctions such as economic status, ethnicity and gender. They show favoritism (James 2:8-9). Like Jesus and the prophets, they should stand against greed, the love of money and class prejudice. Both the prophets and Jesus condemned those who oppressed the poor, orphans and widows (Amos 5:12; Mark 12:40).
As briefly mentioned in the first part of this discourse, the early Church was a united, classless welfarist organization founded on the solid foundations of altruistic love, which did not recognize social distinctions, although it subsisted in a society highly stratified. Rather than discriminating against the poor, the rich were said to sell whatever material possessions they possessed to aid the massive charitable efforts of the apostles (Acts 4:34-35; 2:45). They were a devoted clan of fanatics driven by mutual love and respect.
The Bible recognizes the diversities among human beings. Christ spoke of the differences between good and evil, just and unjust, women and men, parents and children, and different ethnicities such as Jews and Gentiles. People can be stronger, smarter and richer than others, while not all are equal in terms of success, social status, personal deficiencies and intellectual abilities. People have different backgrounds, gifts, talents, roles and responsibilities. It is God who determines these things. “…the Most High reigns over the kingdoms of the world. He gives them to whomever he wills, even to the humblest” (Daniel 4:17).
The impartiality of God in his dealings with humans was graphically represented by the act of sending his only begotten Son to earth through a family of low social status. He could have chosen to bring Christ into the world through a royal or highly influential family, but he chose a family of carpenters. God, by this singular act, was telling humans that all are equal in His eyes; that none of his creations is superior or more worthy of his love than the others; that there are no first among equals among his children.
In all, since we are ALL created EQUAL with God, it means that we all have equal dignity as earthly children of our Heavenly Father. Every human being deserves our respect. A rich man is neither more important nor entitled to more consideration than a poor man, and a Jew has no more right to the kingdom of God than a Gentile. The purpose of Romans 2:11 is to remind us that God is a righteous judge and that all will face the same judgment of the law and the occasion of his mercy (Revelation 20:12-13). God shows no partiality (Deuteronomy 10:17).
God is watching us all!
- Obuseh writes via [email protected]