Part IV: The Liberate the Oppressed
Updated: Jan 11, 2020
The perfect metaphor to illustrate the church’s role in setting free the oppressed is the story of Moses leading the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan (oppression to liberty) played out in Exodus. We learn from Moses’ life story that when God uses people as vessels of deliverance to the oppressed: the testimony, conduct, faith and relationships of those vessels with God matters in bringing the oppressed safely to deliverance. The church and its leaders matter because leading the oppressed to salvation and deliverance depends as much on those who are chosen as vessels as it does the oppressed themselves.
Conduct defined by a relationship with God
So, when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” Exodus 3 vs. 2 - 5
I once tried to introduce Christ to a friend of mine and His response can be summarized “I believe God exists but I don’t believe in the people he’s put in charge”, he attended a catholic school growing up and himself and other boys had been sexually abused.
Sometimes I hear stories of church leaders’ actions and the first question that jumps into my head is “Does this leader even really know God?”. I do not see how hatred (1 John 4:8) and sometimes outright abuse of church members can be justified if ministers had a relationship with the God they preach. So many members are cynical and have lost interest in Christ and the church, not because they do not believe God but because the behavior of the modern church is often objectionable and unjustifiable.
To Moses, the presence of God in the Exodus was more important than miracles. God’s presence and a relationship with God was the compass with which he led. He spent so much time with God that sometimes his face lit up. His achievements are no coincidence – they were directed by the God he stood by.
The conduct of leaders can attract people to or repel them from Christ. It is therefore necessary that the conduct of Christian leaders is moulded from a relationship with Christ through the direction of the Holy Spirit.
Called to a purpose
Years before Moses’ encounter at Horeb, Moses made a first attempt at playing saviour (Exodus 2:11-14). All his actions did was incur the mockery of the people he sought to deliver and the wrath of the Egyptian pharaoh. Having a clear and specific assignment made a significant difference on Moses’ return. God had prepared and equipped him for Pharaoh’s initial negative response.
Not every leader or minister will have the burning bush experience, some leaders volunteer (Nehemiah in Nehemiah 2) or are (rightly) promoted to serve (see Jephthah in Judges 12 or the deacons in Acts 6), what is clear is that every leader must have an assignment. Clear assignments mean that Christ’s purpose alone is served (no guesswork), it is also a strong foundation for when the tough times rise. The road may be rough, but the destination is clear.
A compassion towards the oppressed (those we are called to serve)
Another quality that set Moses apart, which we also find in Christ was a compassion for those he led, he sought for God’s mercies for those he led even when they had deeply hurt him.
I once knew a church located in a community filled with criminal gangs, prostitutes and drunks. Many of the prayer services constituted requests to God to ‘clean up the community’ and bring law and order to the community. The church was really concerned about the safety of its members, so it never organized an evangelism outreach to take Christ into its immediate community. In the end, the church raised enough money and moved to a safer community.
I thought this was an opportunity lost. If the church, really has been called by Christ to deliver the oppressed then we must do what we have been called to do. Not judge, not hate but work earnestly and pray not for the destruction and elimination of those oppressed by the devil – but for their salvation.
In summary, Christ has called the church to lead the deliverance of those oppressed by Satan – demonstrating this by living in sin (Romans 6:16 – for it is sin that enslaves). First, we ourselves must be saved and have a living relationship with God through the Holy spirit. Then we must have clear instructions and assignment because when road becomes rough and stormy, when we are faced with opposition, that assignment and our relationship with the one who sent us acts like a compass. Finally, the grace of the father must dwell in us. We know God will do all it takes to bring the oppressed back to light, He has called us to do the same – and we should.