Day 06 Devotional & Discussion – February 24, 2015

Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:14-15

Workplace justice is ultimately about the way power is distributed and used. In employment matters, who has power? What role do wages play in this power dynamic? What is God’s relationship to the workplace power dynamics? Would you say that God is on the side of the workers? Why? What role–if any–should people of faith have in regulating workplace power dynamics?

3 comments

  1. It seems to me that we could be creating a false dichotomy by saying that God is on one side or the other. Ultimately he loves all and wants justice for all. There is a sense in which he is just as much on the side of the worker as he is on the side of the employer. Both should know the they are loved by God and both should know that God’s heart beats for justice in how they live our their role. I’m concerned that placing God on one side could create an unnecessary us-vs-them mentality that could easily lead, and has led, to bitter feeling and actions. But if I understand that heart behind your questions, and as I read these very clear verses, God definitely wants employers to practice justice in the payment of wages. Throughout Scripture there are plenty of times that God says those in positions of power should be held extra-accountable. It’s too easy to abuse that power. Too easy to get a skewed viewed of reality. I can see why it would seem that God is on the side of the vulnerable. There are places in Scripture where he says as much. I guess I just don’t want to become hard-hearted toward those in power.

    When we were missionaries in Kingston, Jamaica, the churches we worked with were primarily in impoverished communities. Our co-workers had a great heart to share Christ among the poor. We were glad to join with them. But through a series of chance encounters, we started to develop friendships with three people/families in the wealthy/elite community. These relationships blossomed quite naturally, and we felt it important to pursue them. God has a heart for all. Our co-workers expressed their concern to us, as if we were doing something wrong. We had a strong desire to reach out to the poor, and we did that. But we didn’t feel it was right to stop or diminish our friendships with the wealthy. I see it as a both-and.

  2. I know many of us get uncomfortable when we talk about God taking sides. Doesn’t God love everyone equally? Doesn’t the Bible say that God shows no favoritism? Yes, but… In the Bible, showing favoritism is the equivalent of “showing preference for” and is usually a description of how the powerful are treated. Those without power are shown no preference. When the Bible says that God shows no favoritism, it is saying that God never shows preference for those with power or treats them with special privilege. Instead, God demonstrates a propensity to act in defense of those who are abused by power and to place boundaries around those who have power. Did God take sides between the slaves in Egypt and Pharaoh? Yes. Did God take sides between the workers who were being defrauded of their wages and their employers? Yes. And God forcefully speaks truth to power to redeem them from their haughty self-understanding and bring them into right relationship with those who have little or no power. God protects the interests of the worker in these passages so that those who have power over paying wages remember that God holds them accountable for the living conditions of the workers. The powerful must always be reminded that they are not God, but fellow members of an integrated community that can only be sustained when everyone is cared for and treated with dignity. A community can only survive when those at the bottom (those with the least amount of power) thrive. I’m sure we’ll come across this dynamic numerous times throughout Lent.

  3. God sides unequivocally with the “least of these”. Sorry, but that is fundamental to the gospel. This message is given to the rich and poor in the effort to open all hearts. I like the idea of radical commensality which disrupts the class hierarchy with new vision – the Kingdom of God. That the rich feel “oppressed” by this message is nothing new. To dilute the message to appease the wealthy sensibilities is trying to serve God and mammon. Won’t work. Mostly we are fed a diluted gospel in this country – one which allows for obscenely wealthy preachers – no problem.
    Gandhi had this to say (talking about a senior Romney in text):
    “I have always thought that having wealth flow to you without doing something of equal value in return was a form of theft. Most Americans hold a quite different view. They believe that people like Romney to whom money flows effortlessly like a supermagnet, who provide no goods or services to those who give them the money, who then spend that wealth as wastefully and conspicuously as possible, represent the very goal of existence. Nearly everyone who gets rich does it by short-changing, or even actively harming, their fellows, hardly admirable behaviour.”

    This undiluted “challenging” gospel is given to all without hesitation. We want the rich amongst us to hear it and receive its blessing. Thanks for going here.

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