All over the nation Christians marvel in the idea that God is worshiped and praised through hand praise that occurs in a church building. Many preachers pride themselves on preaching so well that the people listening break out into a shout to give praise to God. Many sermons are centered around praise. Many ministries are centered around praise. Praise has always been an entity in the church, especially the black church that overrides all other notions. Praise has always dominated the structure of church. However, praise and honor are most efficient when they are kind acts to the poor rather than whooping and shouting. Maybe, social justice is the best way to worship God in an unjust world. Proverbs 14:31 (NRSV) suggests, "Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but those who are kind to the needy honor God."
This Proverb speaks about honoring God in a very pure form. In fact, Dr. Timothy J. Sandoval writes in, Money and the Ways of Wisdom: Insights from the Book of Psalms,
In these proverbs the sages draw a direct parallel between our conduct toward the poor and our conduct toward God. Oppressing and mocking the poor is an offense to the Deity, while
showing kindness to the destitute is a demonstration of respect and concern for the Divine.
In essence, if oppressing and mocking the poor is offensive to God, then, we are spitting in the face of God. We as a nation oppress and mock the poor as a way of life. It is second-nature to us as humanity to oppress others. Thus, we glorify ourselves rather than edifying God through social justice leadership in the world. We cease to show respect to God through our transformative lives as it relates to liberation in the lives of those who most need it.
We live in a world that the rich have become richer and the poor have become poorer. The rich people in our world have become detached from the poor because of their status. Sandoval continues to assert:
"For those of us some means, living in the wealthiest country in the world, this means, in part, asking ourselves how "rich" we have become... Do we help the poor and marginalized in concrete ways? Do we genuinely bare their cries, or do we cover our ears by insisting to ourselves that our economic system arrangements are the best we can do? Is our nation and are our communities looking out for the most economically and socially vulnerable in our midst? Or are the rules and laws set up to help those of us who are already well off? Our responses to all these money matters the sages of Proverbs insist, have everything to do with wisdom."
We must realize how rich this world has become. If our world makes room for CEOs who make astronomically more than their workers, if our world provides space for pastors who make money off of their poor members, our world has become richer and we do not care about it at all. We, as a community have not helped the poor and the marginalized in effective ways. It is safe to say that most of us do not even hear the cries of the disenfranchised.
In fact, Congressman John Lewis and others had to leave church to worship God through marching. Blacks were refused the right to vote and Congressman Lewis saw fit to worship God in a more effective way. If he did not worship God through marching for rights, then blacks from Alabama would not have the right to vote. Praise and worship in the public square through marching for the disenfranchised was and is effective. The rules are enacted for those who are well off. Congressman Lewis and others had to march because laws were only made for rich whites. We live in a rich and blind world.
Social justice issues must always perpetually be eradicated because with them, the ups and downs of life are felt more aggressively. If this nation really wants to honor God, then we must stand in the gaps of oppression. If this nation truly wants to honor God, then we must stand in between the gap that lies in between the poor and the rich to close the gap. However, the sad travesty is that this nation may never see fit to close the gap between the rich and the poor.
All the lives of poor people are slowly coming to an end because of the oppressive hand of rich people. This must be eradicated by people actually caring about the needy. Most rich Americans send money to the "needy" just to say that they are compassionate, when they are in the business of keeping their foot on the throats of others while they get ahead. If there is a multiplicity of people actually caring and showing their care for the needy; the gigantic problem of poverty will be solved. Rich people are always in a conundrum when it comes to solving problems like these but, if they simply cared about the people whom they are supposed to serve they will be better off.
If our nation worships God through liberation, love, and learning for all humans; then we would all edify God in monumental ways. God must be edified this way rather than other ways that have proven to be unsuccessful. What would have happened if Congressman Lewis, activist Hosea Williams and hundreds of others went to church on "Bloody Sunday" instead of participating in marches? What would have happened if Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. went to Memphis to merely preach in a church rather than march with sanitation workers? What would have happened the problems in the public square were left in the public square and God was limited to the four walls of the church? Our nation would not be where it is now without the courageous stances from the bold Christians who stood for social justice in the world.