The powerful words of Emma Lazarus etched and engraved in the statue of Liberty says this,
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send those homeless, tempest tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the Golden door”.
These words of hope is a note of welcome to all those who suffer oppression and in need of liberty to realize their dream in the free land of America. Liberty is the cry of human soul, and no matter how high the statue of Liberty is, the values for which it stands, is higher. Hundreds of years back when there was no statue of Liberty , a man stood tall among us and said these words “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon me and learn from me , for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls . For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28,29,30). This call of Christ echoes still across the darkest places of the world where still people are reeling under oppression, poverty, fear and every evil control. The word and ministry of Christ still stands as a beacon of liberty to the world.
Liberation according to the dictionary is the act of setting someone free from imprisonment, slavery or oppression. Somehow I feel the word ‘Liberation’ has to be liberated from many misconceptions. When I talk about liberation, I’m not talking about a leftist or Marxist philosophy but about the purpose of mankind, I’m not talking about a revolution but about a revelation, I’m not talking against the existing orders but existing patterns that needs to be done away with. The term “Liberation Theology” is widely known after the 1950’s movement in Latin America, especially in the Catholic Church where few priests and clergy vociferously raised their opinions on the need for the Church to be actively involved in radical social reforms to uplift the poor and the oppressed, it did have an impact as well as some confusion with in the Church because of its political overtone. The seminal text of this movement by Dominican Priest “Gustavo Gutierrez” resulted in coining of the term ‘Liberation Theology’. Though this was a noble movement inspired by an higher ideal its important to breakaway from it to understand Liberation theology from a wider lens. Especially its imperative to derive the origins of Liberation from the very heart of God, and this revelation of God being the Liberator and his desire for justice was very much evident in the pages of the Bible. More importantly this nature of God was known by those who walked with him from ancient times. So liberation and liberation theology is a Biblical Idea and more fundamentally it is God’s Idea.
“The spirit of the Lord is on me, to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom to the prisoners, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of Lord’s favour” Luke 14:18,19.
At the synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus read out this passage from Isaiah which points directly to the mission of the Messiah, once he finished he said “Its is fulfilled at their hearing”. This lead to a violent retaliation from the Jews. Lord Jesus could have chosen any other prophecy pointing towards him, but when he projected his mission and ministry he referred to this particular verse which talks about liberation. Liberation is the heart beat of God and Jesus Christ, the son of God revealed it through his life and ministry.
God’s heart for liberation of humanity was gracefully symbolized through the ministry of his Son Jesus Christ on his mission to Earth, what better proof one needs for the origins of liberation theology. Moving a bit away, its incumbent on any author who wants to make a point on liberation theology to assess the dimensions and areas it cover. Since Liberation originates from God, it means it covers every area of life and a wholistic view gives the most genuine understanding, at the same time categorizing it makes it a bit simple. The areas this article focuses would be Spiritual, Economic, Socio-Cultural/Political and Intellectual .On the top of it, when we talk about liberation we have to explore the vastness of its impact, we cannot restrict the idea of liberation only to the Sinful, weak, oppressed, poor and under privileged, this mistake was committed by many Liberation literatures sidelining the need of liberating the Rich, wealthy, powerful and the righteous from their own bondage which would have impacted a great deal. The tragedy and malady of our times is that too many unliberated people trying to liberate others, too many unchanged people trying to make a change. Truth is nobody’s slave but everybody’s freedom (John 8:32), the fruit liberation is only possible when it applies to all.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. Romans 3:23
In his famous Epistle to Romans Apostle Paul indicates that Sin or Man’s disobedience to God is the root cause for human disintegration and all social damage. So Bible places Spiritual liberation at the core of every other liberation, and sin or disobedience to God is the sole reason for the fall of humanity. So to set people free from the bondage of sin is the primary mission for which Christ came in to this world. “She will give birth to a Son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” Matthew 1:21. The name Jesus which means ‘Yahweh Saves’ also can mean Yahweh is the liberator. So Jesus is the representation of Yahweh God as the liberator of people from their sins. The Jews who rejected Jesus failed to place things in due priority, and those who reject him today still commit the same mistake. Jesus had constant debates with the teachers of the Law especially in the matters of the interpretation and meaning of the Law, since they could not grasp the spirit of the Law. Remember God liberated them from slavery and oppression of Egypt, and showed them that to be free is to be under God`s holy covenant and not be in the sins of Egypt which oppreses people and rejects justice, the underlying truth is that Sin and disobedience can lead them away from God and in to captivity . It is to show them that God alone is their deliverer and they are called to be free. That’s why even before God lead them in to the promised land he gave them orders of Worship, and Sacrifice was at the heart of worship, and those who disobeyed God in the wilderness could not enter the promise. The religious order or the spiritual guardians of Mosaic Laws of Jesus time could not fathom or they were so faithless, and limited in to their selfish ambitions that they could not understand their liberator and ended up condemning him. They were so dependent on their political powers that they desired a political messiah who can condemn all others except them. I wonder what would have been their reaction if Jesus revealed himself as a political messiah, they would have still opposed him, since they were tightly bonded by power lobbies. They deeply forgot their spiritual state, that liberation from Sin is the key to unlock every other liberation. They failed to understand that sacrifice is must to experience the freedom from sin, and Jesus the messiah is that perfect sacrifice which brings them back to the heart of worship, they didn’t care to understand the truth that they too, who were considered as the most Holy, the caretakers of God’s righteous covenant and oracles were in need of liberation from their pride, arrogance and unbelief. They had to be liberated from their sin of restricting God’s mercy which was available to all , only to serve their own political and personal agendas.
The Mosaic covenant was pretty clear that their relationship with God is vital to their survival, and obedience to him alone can determine their existence in that Land ( Deuteronomy 28), and whenever they failed to obey God they were taken as captives, and desired for a comeback, its important to understand that whenever they did that they came back with an attitude to obey God and worship him. So liberation from sin opens the way for true worship for God and true love and care towards fellowmen.
The other aspect of spiritual liberation is, it directly impacted the society and how they treated one another. Jesus took the spiritual movement in to the streets of Judea by calling out people to turn away from their sins in repentance and turn back to God. He revealed the truth that Gods glory is not confined in to the inner walls of the temple and rested only in the hands of few privileged elites ,But it transcended across and it reaches to the poor and oppressed. In his time, one group made to feel so righteous and other group were left to feel hopeless in Sin, it was evident in the Parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector narrated by Jesus (Luke 18:9-14). In the famous incident of the adulterous women, when the religious group thought they got her in sin, and Jesus in his error , Jesus caught everyone in their sin (John 8:1-11). He clearly showed what he himself knew that day both groups need liberation from sin, but it was hard for the religious sect to accept this hard truth. The proclamation of the Gospel to the poor was Christ’s primary mission, the poor were left to believe they got to die in their sins, the sinners had to remain sinners without hope of liberation, and Jesus went and showed that they too are part of God’s plan of liberation and Gods love is available to them too through his Son Jesus Christ. As healing was tied to the religious order of the time, even healing was restricted to the poor and its not difficult to understand the healing ministry of Jesus right on the streets of Judea. It does make a statement. Jesus with his authority forgave sins (Matthew 9:6), and liberated people who were stuck in condemnation, guilt, sickness and disease. Somehow it spurs my imagination to visualize that Jesus as the perfect and eternal sacrifice went about setting people free knowing that he is going to become the sacrifice for each one of them, not in a private altar inside the premises of the temple but as a public spectacle for all to see on the altar called the cross of Calvary. Since his liberation from sin is for all. He even cried out ‘Father forgive them , they do not know what they are doing’. The atoning death of Christ has the power to cleanse and no human being whether rich or poor, oppressor or the oppressed all can graciously avail the freedom of sin and guilt. “If we confess our sins , he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” 1 John 1:9.
The spiritual liberation is possible only by the liberating Love and power of God. Jesus demonstrated that on the streets and gave hope to those who had lost hope that God can actually love them and liberate them. Jesus had to pay the price, he had to let go of his glory and had to become a servant, be one among them and show them that love of God is never far away for anybody in this world. It is something the religious order which used the name of God extensively failed to do because they themselves were not liberated. Jesus also had to do one more important thing, God himself was misrepresented to the poor common man and Jesus had to liberate the theology from their hands and rightly represent God. When this happened there was revival.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8.
The Gospel unleashes the power of God’s Love. It underscores that truth belongs to all and its good to share it. Truth is not a Royal banquet with variety of dishes with few people tasting it when many were dying without a single meal. Jesus opened up the banquet of salvation and sanctification to all people. He knew that true worship always bring liberation.
The core of the Gospel commissioned by Christ to his disciples is the liberation from sin to all people irrespective of creed, ethnicity, social status or wealth. The Jesus revolution showed that our sin doesn’t stop God from loving us (John 3:16) and it doesn’t stop any human from worshipping God in truth. As all humanity were united in sin, the one perfect sacrifice of Christ became the remedy for every sin ever committed in the face of the earth. The condemnation which kept human in bondage was exposed and destroyed. It revealed the truth that Holiness and relationship with God is not just the privilege of the few but the right of many. The proclamation of the Gospel has since then have liberated millions and millions from the bondage of sin, it also have brought in transformation in the societies across the world throughout the centuries. The salvation from sin and communion with God is the greatest message of Hope and the Church of Christ should not do the same mistake done by the religious order of Jesus time, but take the Gospel to the ends of the earth calling out all to participate in the grand story of liberation from sin through the salvific work of Jesus Christ. It carries one big message, Faith in Christ sets all men free from sin (John 8:32). “For it is by grace you have been saved , through faith—-this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” Ephesians 2:8.
“Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” Luke 3:11.
Economics the Jesus Way or ‘Christonomics’ as I would call it, can be a great experiment in understanding LT but it can have its own controversies. The signs of any society or individual liberated from sin is directly evident in every other area of Liberation. Two examples stands out during the Jesus Revolution. When Zacchaeus life was transformed, the first thing he did was to give away money through illegal gains and especially gave away half of his fortune to the poor. Here is a rich man doing what was right in the sight of God, he exactly knew what Jesus liked. Jesus went on to say, salvation has to come to this house (Luke 19:1-10). In the case of Rich young man ,Jesus was particular about him giving away his wealth to the poor to follow him. He left Christ for his wealth. At the Centre of the Gospel was liberation of sin, and certainly Economic liberation was not in the periphery. It was projected as the evidence of change, it became an indicator for a person’s commitment to Christ. It might look like that ‘Jesus economics ‘ as a close associate to socialism. Obviously there are great number of indicators and signs for that in the Bible, especially in the New Testament,John the Baptist asked to give one tunic away if we have two. The early disciples sharing of wealth among them are of serious proofs for them to solidify their case to show Jesus as a socialist, but the parable of talent is very much the justification for the capitalists (Matthew 25:14-30). Jesus was neither a socialist nor a capitalist, he is a revivalist who sought justice in the society. The revival movement of John the Baptist and Christ was very much a social justice movement as much a spiritual movement.
The true value of a human being can be found in the degree to which he has attained liberation from the self. –Albert Einstein.
Especially as followers of Christ we need to be alarmed of the Global Wealth Index showing wealth inequality on an all time high. The top 10% of the world holds almost 90% of worlds total wealth. Now we know why poverty is an issue, and do we know that top layer greatly impacts and decides everybody’s choices in life?How are we going to bridge the Gap is a big question we all need to answer. Poverty is termed as sin, not because of the poor but the greed of the rich. So both have to be liberated from the poverty, one from the poverty of kindness, and other from the actual poverty. We don’t want modern day Robinhood’s or Scarlet Pimpernel’s, we only need change in how we approach our Finances and God given resources to the world. We need economics the Jesus way. We need empowering socialism coupled with responsible capitalism. We need both trickle down ‘Water fall’ economics as well as bottom up ‘Water fountain’ economics. The economically poor has to be liberated from their poverty through giving them confidence, self-worth, purpose, and also finances to support their dreams, and we need liberation of the rich from their greed, narrow mindedness and lust for power and control. Jesus gave confidence to the poor asking them to have faith and belief, he rebuked the rich of their selfishness. There is radical giving when the Lord requires of it, but there is also wise giving. We need positive Entrepreneurship at all levels, creativity and contribution should never be suppressed. We need new ideas and methods from the wealthy to take their resources effectively and efficiently through channels of empowerment, skill development and job creation to the most deprived of us all, and we need to uplift the poor also through channels of awareness and education access to be able to avail their portion of God given resources. Fear is the greatest obstacle, for the Rich, the fear of losing their control and for the poor fear of failing. Wealth creation for the under privileged should be encouraged by those who know how it works. Jesus radically asked the rich to give away, which comes from the heart of giving, but the wages also was given to the labourers in his famous parables. So we need to know what to apply when, Jesus encouraged all the right methods to establish justice. If capitalism inspires the poor so be it, if socialism helps them on the ground, why not both?Nothing is beyond Biblionomics!. Bible sets the parameter that wealth accumulation should only lead to wealth distribution. Don’t be materialistic, let your wealth help someone in need positively. It can happen through creating a right culture and environment, wise and just policy making, positive entrepreneurship, Intentional Job creation, easy access to quality education and many other means like social awareness on evils like alcoholism and other lifestyle practices. Some said Capitalism for the rich and socialism to the poor. We can go on talking on the Jargon’s but the reality is are we taking seriously the liberation that Jesus talked so extensively about during his ministry which included both the Rich and the poor, the oppressor and the oppressed.
The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor. — Proverbs 22:9
Economic Liberation also have to go across communities and across nations, which is being done in many places. The stronger nations which has the resources have to support those who lack. Not only monetarily but also in terms of skill, education, empowerment and investments. Today, we see the world over the tendency to become overtly conservative in sharing the resources. The Rich nations should come out of their fear to invest because of so many problems that prevail in those nations, the poor nations have let go of their cultural pride to accommodate good and efficient methods and practice it wholeheartedly. The mission movements in the 17th centuries and continued till now, have played a major role in transferring wealth,education, skills, inventions and values from the west to empower the communities which were poor in the east and other parts of the word.
Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches? — Isaiah 10:1-3
The Church has to operate in the standards of Christ when it comes to Economic liberation, we have to bring the best of the both worlds and apply any method which would effectively eradicate the evil of poverty and ascertain justice. Many societies are poor because of terrorism, oppression, bad governance, corruption and just wrong belief system. The Church not only has to be generous in giving as the early Church and also they should work strategically towards economical liberation (Hebrews 13:16, Ephesians 4:27,28 ). Its good to see many community churches and congregations motivate their believers to be confident and have faith in God for their needs and growth. The focus is not gaining wealth, the focus is enabling them to be contributors to the kingdom of God. God wants us to share just the Gospel, but the values associated with the Gospel which includes sharing our gifts, talents , resources, wealth. That’s how Jesus viewed the kingdom of God, he exactly knew that Goodnews to the poor also involves economic liberation
Socio- Cultural Liberation:
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail”. — Isaiah 58:6-11.
Socio- Cultural liberation is the liberation from the beliefs and practices which exists in the society that stands opposite to the truth of God’s Kingdom. This liberation also tied with the core of the Gospel. Jesus on his way to Galilee from Judea stopped at the Samaritan town called Sychar to get some rest, there he encounters with a Samaritan woman whose life was filled with dissatisfaction. Jesus asked her some water, and she was surprised about the fact that a Jew is asking her water to drink, as Jews don’t associate themselves with the Samaritans. Jesus consciously broke the wall of prejudice about him and existing social pattern. At the time of Jesus, there was discrimination in the society. It was important for Christ who came to establish the Kingdom of God to liberate people from the Socio-Cultural practices which kept people in bondage. He ends his conversation with her by saying “Woman, a time is coming where you will not worship on this mountain or the one in Jerusalem, the true worshippers of God will worship him in spirit and truth” (John 4:5-43). In the Kingdom of God what matters is approaching God in spirit and truth, the religious order of his time had practiced a culture in the society which discriminated people based on their background. When Jesus was asked ‘Who is my Neighbour’, Jesus pointed out to the goodness of the Samaritan in helping probably a Jew whom their own brothers whom they admire refused to help, but help came from whom they hated (Luke 10:25-37). Jesus placed love above everything, anybody who loves those in need can be your neighbour, friend and comrade. The Galilee of the Gentiles where Jesus mentioned was looked down so badly by many that they could not identify their King (John 1:46). Jesus can be seen as a social reformer. He just didn’t preach about the Kingdom of God but showed what it means to live out the values of the Kingdom.
“Ignoring the poor is to show contempt for both God and humanity.”― Phillip Michael Garner.
Especially the racial, gender and casteistic struggles that prevails in our societies needs to be heavily weighed by those who follow Christ .Its true we have come a long way, its true that many gave up their privileges to take everyone along, but its important to acknowledge that we have a long way to go. Discrimination existed in one of the greatest democracies for so long with many being believers shows how it’s a struggle which needs constant work. Patterns are hard to break so are the systems that matured over years in our society and culture. It took Rosa Parks to resist and Martin Luther to walk that bridge at Selma, and to preach dream beyond discrimination to shake human conscience and say in all our feel good holiness that there are practices that still mock the Kingdom of God.At somepoint it requires somebody’s resistance,otherwise we will continue to walk in our insensitivity and insincerity. Even with all these efforts human beings still struggle in racial discrimination. No system can give complete justice, only christ can, but these voices keep our conscience alive to seek justice. Some argue to validate this evil by saying God allowed us to have different colour and features and hence the discrimination, So what if God is challenging us by making each one of us differently, that he is challenging us to Love one another beyond our differences, what if that’s how he is testing us? What colour is our blood? What colour is our spirit? Isn’t all humans have the same fundamental needs, and isnt human emotions are same across the world and where comes racial pride? A man who had lost his mind in hatred cried out wildly about the supremacy of his race in Germany, what happened to our greatest theological powerhouse in Europe then? If knowing all that Christ stood for and still encourage these destructive patterns , we are crucifying Christ again. God raised Apostle Paul questioned the discriminatory mindset in the light of truth in Christ. He said there is no ‘Jew nor Gentile’ and Jesus said “If you have done anything to least of these you have done to me”(Galatians 3:28,29, Matthew 25:40).
The Caste system that existed in India where people are discriminated based on their background and profession that existed for centuries which gave way to many social evils such as untouchability, denying access to education, as well deprived of many other fundamental and human rights. The liberator in Christ identified with all people groups when he lived, Bible shows that he is a King , a priest, a shepherd, a Carpenter’s son who was with fishermen, came to do his father’s business, he also took the form of a servant and died as an outcast and criminal. He identified himself with all and everything so that all can be free from discrimination and live in love with one another. The amalgamation of his identity gives one strong response to casteistic divide, that he stood for liberation from any discrimination or oppression. Women too played a major role in his ministry, he chose to be born of a young woman and after his resurrection he first showed himself to a woman, when the woman who was caught in adultery was wrongly judged leaving out the man, he stood for her. In Indian culture with certain belief system existed that where cruel to women. Sati existed until William Carey a missionary worked on it extensively, in this practice ,the women was put in fire along with her dead husband’s body. Many missionaries understanding the deep yearning of Christ for liberation worked tirelessly around the globe to make a change in Healthcare, Education and governance to keep out of bondage in the form of social and cultural practices. They even transformed cannibalistic and barbaric tribes in to civilized societies. Their lives stand as a testament to the heart of Christ.
When the forerunner of Christ, John the Baptist was creating waves in Judea people from all walks of life came to him to seek repentance. He called out for fruits of justice (Luk3:10-14). Our societies in which our culture gets formed, based on practices, leaves out dangerous patterns. What about the culture of corruption, misuse of power, human trafficking, sex trafficking, Genocides etc, everything leads to oppression of people and they need to be liberated. People who lust after power and money by all means have to be liberated, people who divide the societies and communities for their personal gain have to be liberated, people who fear towards his fellowmen because they are different have to be liberated along with those who were oppressed by wrong social orders and customs as well as foolish cultural patterns and practices. We can go on and talk about political prisoners, unjust captives and so on , this topic will never end…
The Church has to be inspired to uphold the mission of Christ to set the captives free, the captives who think they have the right to oppress and discriminate, and the ones who think that they are never meant to have hope in the society and continue to live in fear. Have the Church done enough? Do we have practicality as an excuse because of our flawed functionality. All through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, justice is the focal point. Isn’t the God we serve consider reconciliation much greater than the offering at the altar. Is the Church influencing the societies and cultures of the world or the world is influencing the Church to behave its way? The patterns of the world most of the time stands against the principles of God’s kingdom. But what about the Church, the salt and light of the Earth, do we stand as the Golden lamp stand of liberty to those who are denied their value as envisaged by the Messiah himself. The Spirituality of the Church is so intricately tied with our engagement with the world, our societies and our cultures which has failed its justice to the weak and how we engage would eventually will define our identity.
“At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children”. Matthew 11:25.
If there is something Jesus did constantly to his disciples and others is, he made them think. Reason was never out of place in his conversation. There was dialogue and questions on either side. The wrong interpretation and understanding of the Law was constantly challenged by Christ. One of the biggest problems in Judea at the time was nobody had intellectual safety, nobody was willing to listen to the truths that was present with the other side. Blasphemy was charged against everybody who dared to question the religious order. In any democracy, freedom of speech and thought is a fundamental right. Freedom to think creatively and intellectual exchange of ideas was very much necessary to create an healthy environment. When Apostle Paul was at Athens he was given space to express his views, and Romans gave him a fair trial, but in Judea’s religious order to who he worked passionately he became a traitor and his life was in danger.
Jesus became this revolutionary teacher who gave his heavenly wisdom sitting in the mountains, under trees, on a boat and wherever people gathered to listen to him. Many were liberated from their spiritual blindness, and was able to know Christ. Peter the fisherman was able to identify Christ, Barthemew who was blind was able to call him out as Son of David. When the religious leaders heard children and ordinary people exalt him as messiah on the day of his entry in to Jerusalem in a donkey, they asked them to keep quiet and Jesus said “These stones will cry out if they kept silent” (Luke 19:40). Bible says that God of this age has blinded people from knowing the truth. When truth is not fed in to people’s mind then everything else will occupy and put people under bondage. The religious order though they knew everything about their God, but they failed to know the truth which put many in bondage. Jesus taught people to reason and know the Truth, when people were scared to ask their teachers of their Law, questions and doubts , many were able to ask Jesus questions and doubts they had regarding their scriptures. When the teachers had conversations only with the religious elites, Jesus was having great conversations with ordinary people in different professions about Kingdom of God. Intellectual liberation is very important for any free society where justice for all is the goal.
In today’s world there is a great danger to intellectual safety, people are threatened. Many cultures ask people to keep quiet and do not want to ask questions. Even in democracies there is no space for seeking the truth. Freedom to believe and religious freedom is been eroded everywhere. There are places in which you cannot practice one’s faith openly, and not allowed to propagate one’s belief. People are put in prisons and are killed for their belief. There should be liberation from this narrow mindedness, people should be given space for their beliefs. Many do this in the name of God, but God allowed space in the world for all kind of people, even those who reject him. If God is so narrow minded , he would just have people who know him in truth. He has given space and time for all to know him. Many reject scientific temperament as an enemy of faith, and reason is against spirituality, but Bible has enough answers to include science and technology in a way of knowing the works of God. One cannot forget the role of reformation in Europe greatly contributing to the era of scientific inventions.
The serious need of intellectual liberation is it is tied to all other liberation. Many in the lower strata of the society do have visions and ideas, and there are not enough intellectual space in the grassroots to encourage that vision. The working class doesn’t have space to think, even about the rationality of God. Sabbath was designed to think about God, but many people don’t even have the luxury of rest as well many other unnecessary things distracting them from real intelligence. The knowledge of God. Denial of truth, vision and intelligence just because it doesn’t come from the powerful is a bondage from which the society should come out of.
Media nowadays is playing a powerful role in feeding the thoughts of people, and even though it has given space for expression to all sections , it also can become a tool of control and oppression. As much as good spread through the internet , bad spreads very fast and dividing societies, communities and people. We can call this ‘Information abuse’, where people have so much information in their hands but very less of intelligence and inspiration. Media controls us in many ways, it decides, how we should think. Many fake’s are unleashed which put people in bondage.Radical extremist ideas have taken people out of intellectual safety and put them in bondage. Many countries suffer terrorism by various groups which radicalize and brainwash young minds, especially take advantage over their poverty and weakness, they teach dangerous philosophies to hurt and kill fellow human beings. They need to be liberated too.
Many missionaries went across the world started schools, centers of learning and worked with so many suppressed communities and gave them opportunity to think and also instill them with good ideas. So that they can contribute to the society in meaningful ways. Some are communities who were denied voice and access to education. They took the intellectual liberation of Christ very seriously and worked towards Gospel too played a role in intellectual liberation various countries, many nations where Gospel reached became free countries and democracies which progressed towards education and rights for all. When the right intelligence based on truth evolves then it liberates people. ‘God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong’. The liberation needs to happen on both sides, where one side has to listen to those who are denied intellectual safety because of the lack of power, and other has to be liberated from thinking that they are not good enough, enabling them to believe that they are created in the image of God.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17.
So where do we arrive at ? Where can we apply liberation theology? I believe we can apply it in all areas, at all levels and with all people. Everybody needs to have the vision for the heart of God regarding liberation, we all need to be watchful and have the attitude and mind of Christ when it comes to liberation, we need to be moved by the spirit of God because where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. The oppressor have to be liberated from their false mindset and wrong beliefs through understanding Christ that he didn’t come to be served but to serve, the oppressed should be liberated from their lack of belief in their freedom that it is for freedom Christ died and that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. So liberation is possible on the whole when all sides see the need of liberation. But we must again remember that the one who has been given more will be asked more (Luke 12:48).
Now to understand the Liberation theology that was elucidated above , it requires an important dynamic which separates Biblical and Socio-Political view on it, and there lies a great responsibility in its application. The Biblical has placed a very responsible position in representing the Liberation theology it carries. The LT of Christ didn’t endorse the destruction of any spiritual, economic, social or intellectual order that existed or exists, it focused on the reform. This is not material on anti-establishment. We must also understand the truth that every establishment would have evolved over a period of time through, sacrifice, commitment, courage , responsibility and dedication. Somebody had taken a responsibility selflessly to help people and might have left a tradition to be followed, but in time it would have lost its purpose. Somebody has to take responsibility and every such responsibility ends up in certain level of control which is very much needed, another truth we will always be controlled by one or the other in this this world, we call for the Lordship of Christ and through his spirit we experience even through the oppression of this world . But every establishment will have its own flaws since it involves humans, but there is need to be watchful, if it is acting justly and according to the spirit of Christ and his truth. So the order should be reformed when its wrong , but if it stays adamant against justice , it will lead itself to its destruction.
“Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
Even when Jesus radically spoke on liberation and spoke against the religious order of his time, he never endorsed the complete destruction of the order. When you carefully notice, he said clearly that he came to fulfill the Law (Matthew 5:17), and constantly showed how he fulfilled the Law and the prophets, his Brit Milah and Bar Mitzvah was done by the same religious order he rebuked. In his ministry too he constantly send people to check with the priests and follow the procedure with regards to healing (Luke 5:14).He was always associated with the temple and had some great friends in the religious establishment. Even Apostle Paul who spoke extensively on circumcision, followed the traditions that he had to follow. Remember Jesus rebuked them of their mistakes and hypocrisy which misinterpreted God’s heart, he rebuked to reform them and lead them in to repentance that would benefit all people, and to understand the importance of the truth that was in Christ Jesus, that God has sent his son to reconcile to him all the people of the world, which is the ultimate plan of God. His movement also didn’t involve any violence, but the sacrifice of his own blood for the truth he came for. So the bigger question is, If Jesus knocks at the door of our conscience which needs to be liberated and be reformed according to his spirit will we respond to that rebuke in submission? Or we would resist him like they did when he lived among them. Jesus rebuked the Jews and not Romans because, they knew the truth and still acted against it. Bible asks us to submit to authorities which takes responsibility over people. So Jesus was never anti-establishment, order or discipline. The importance of order and establishment is they have a responsibility for others, as God, the sovereign head reacts in truth, justice, love and compassion, but when it fails its ultimate purpose then its existence becomes burden to people . Any order or establishment which doesn’t work towards justice, truth and liberty needs to be reformed. That order should be liberated from that mindset, since it puts everyone in bondage even themselves. Even democratic nations has to function under the rule of Law, and we call it Judiciary which means justice. So where there is no justice that order have to be relooked at and be reformed.
“Love thy God with all your heart, mind and soul and Love thy neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22:37). Jesus summed up the Law and the prophets in this one revolutionary, reformatory statement. The revival movement in the time of Jesus which turned men towards seeking God and his kingdom, didn’t stop there, it enlarged towards justice and liberation in the society they lived in and the world. So any revival movement will not stop only with spirituality , it will certainly affect every areas of human life towards justice and freedom. If our Love for God does not transcend towards loving our neighbour as ourselves, and if we struggle to love other fellowman same as us , stopped by any fear, pride or anything for that matter. Then it means justice is denied , we need to be reformed and liberated. This message of Christ in his time on earth came to the Jews who claimed to be the children of Abraham, and children of God, it comes again to us who have known him and claim to be his children. Where do we stand when it comes to liberation even after knowing that its the heartbeat of God. Jesus didn’t go to Herod’s palace to put him off throne, he rode on a donkey and entered the temple to clean up his Father’s house. That’s how he approaches every single person who believe in him. Liberation is not a overnight magic, or a one man’s show. Let it happen one step at a time according to the faith rendered to each one of us. We dont have to be in politics to liberate people, Jesus didnt. He just showed compassion and offered help in their need and set a great pattern for liberation.
In conclusion. May be with all the efforts we might still be under oppression, it might seem like out of reality. It’s true, we live in a fallen world, but we are kept in this world to make a difference, even if its one step towards truth. Above all as Paul and Silas rejoiced in prison and in oppression, the spirit of God will help us to live in freedom in this oppressing world. In the days to come, freedom is going to be very rare to find, we think with all technological advancement we are going to be more free, but the reality is we are going to be controlled like never before in every way. The resurrection Christ shares an important truth, that death the final oppressor is defeated by Christ, devil is defeated too and we need not give way to fear which controls. We also look forward to a place where we can find true liberation in the presence of God. But till then lets faithfully walk the long road of justice and liberation. The Road which Jesus himself walked!!
But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. Romans 6:22