Ill'n & Oppress'n

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I joined a new gym last Wednesday, worked out, and immediately had an allergic reaction to exercise. A fever, sniffles, cough, nausea, and missed weekend later, I'm feeling semi-human.

Today was surreal. I took some NyQuil last night to help me sleep... and barely woke up in time to get to work. Then, all day long I was high. As in spacy and couldn't concentrate at all. Strangely however, I was probably twice as productive as normal.

After work, I adamantly refused to spend the evening in my apartment (as I have the previous four), so I went out with Adam and got $1 burgers at Darkhorse. On the way there, I listened to the first half of the sermon for this week's small group. After eating, I stopped at Wrigleyville Sports and bought a new Cubs hat. (My old one was from Feb. 2004.) Then, on the train back, I listened to the second half of the sermon and learned that I was guilty of perpetrating a system of oppression and indifference. (I may sound jesting, but I'm actually serious.)

Anyhow, we're listing to Rob Bell's series, A New Exodus. In the first sermon, we learned that throughout the Bible, God often acts when an oppressed people cry out. In the second sermon, Bell teaches that God pulls people out of oppression so that they can bless others. Then in today's sermon, we see Israel at what appears to be their peak. The sermon hits on I Kings 9, 10, and 11. In those three chapters we learn that Solomon has used forced labor to build the Temple, his palaces, and three fortresses. He's also got 700 wives of Royal descent, and 300 concubines... all of this while the Queen of Sheba comes to visit and praises Solomon's God because he is a God that values justice and righteousness.

In an interesting note, Bell also points out a passage in Deuteronomy and then points out where Solomon goes astray in I Kings.

Deuteronomy 17:14-17

14 When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, "Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us," 15 be sure to appoint over you the king the LORD your God chooses. He must be from among your own brothers. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not a brother Israelite. 16 The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the LORD has told you, "You are not to go back that way again." 17 He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.

In I Kings, Solomon gets his horses from Egypt, and then becomes an arms dealer, importing and exporting chariots. Then there are the 700 wives, and then finally this indictment in I Kings 10:27, "The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones." As if the parallels aren't telling enough, there's this gem: 1 Kings 10:14 "The weight of the gold that Solomon received yearly was 666 talents."

All of this is to illustrate that after being delivered by God, Solomon and the Israelites (in a pattern that will reoccur throughout the Bible) build for themselves an empire of comfort and convenience. Bell then draws the parallel to our culture and asked people in the congregation to look at their shirt labels and call out where the shirt was manufactured. He then proceeds to ask dozens of questions such as, was your shirt manufactured by someone with: access to healthcare? A living wage? In a heated building? In a cooled building? etc. etc. etc.

It was a good point and really makes you think. Is our compartive wealth and comfort built on the backs of oppressed people? Are we not complicit then in those systems of oppression?

Yup, that's it folks... that was my point. The end.

Update: In a bizarre twist, Comrade Wyatt is also struggling with similar thoughts.



When is that sermon series from?? I looked and didn't know which ones you are listening to. Let me know.

The sermon series is called "The New Exodus." I tried to find the link, but I can't find it on their site anymore.

Cool Byron. Good thoughts and I laughed out loud with your Nyquil story.