They start early. The top loader cranks up and the beep...beep...beep of it backing awakens the neighborhood. That's been our summer. Our tax dollars at work.
Our school district is remodeling the elementary school that is adjacent to our back yard. We can look down from our upstairs window and see the trash bins. From the looks of what is in them, they are replacing all air conditioning ducts, units, etc. as well as some water pipes. Insulation, roofing and such things are there as well.
This fall, when the little guys and gals return and some enter for the first time, they will be in a place much safer, less contaminants, and a new smell. For that we happily pay our taxes. Our youngest daughter went to that school in the '90's.
On the few times I have driven by at lunch time, the workers are finding shade in which to sit on the ground and eat their lunch. It seems to be a happy place. I can hear lots of laughter and good natured teasing. They are respectful of the surrounding community.
Sitting at Patio Church this morning reading the Psalms, my thoughts wandered. You see, most of these fellows who do what I call the 'grunt' work are Hispanic. The guys with the pencils and the fellow on the roof under the tent shade doing the skilled labor are Anglo. Certainly there is no difference in the eyes of God because honest labor is commended in Scripture regardless of where one finds them self on the "pecking order". But in our culture, there is a pecking order and I believe it is more than "racism". I am not accusing any of these people of racism. It is obvious that for some opportunities are slow in coming and for many others, people and organizations find ways around laws designed to bring equality, assure due process, insure that the constitution is upheld for all people.
Ephesians 6:12 speaks of "those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world" NLT). What are they? Ephesians 2:2 tells us that Satan himself is "the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God" (NLT).
There is a significant number of Christian people that will say "A-men" to spiritual warfare issues. But many of them they see it only in terms of ghouls wisping in and out of people and a demonic possession in which the exorcism becomes a religious sideshow of shrieks and screams.
I believe it to be more. The Ephesians passage and context is quite clear that the very structures of society are often co-opted by the enemy for evil purposes. Could that even be true in our society? Are some of our societal structures designed in such a way that facilitate wealth and opportunity flowing in one direction?
I can hear it now. "Elmore, you've lost it." I don't think so. Some theologians make a pretty strong case that the "powers" often inhabit the structures of power in a given society for the purpose of maintaining control.
So the question is this. Is spiritual warfare a justice issue? I believe so. And I believe the church should be fast on her knees asking God to give wisdom as to how to make right the wrongs of society through the pervasiveness of the Kingdom of God.
My observations are not an accusation against the contractors repairing the school. I do not know their labor practices nor the qualifications of any of their workers. But I have worked the streets in the 'hood as a police officer almost a generation ago and I can tell you that it takes far more than an open school door to create opportunity.
The people of God have an awesome opportunity of meeting human need in Jesus name - of providing hope through Jesus and of helping to equip people not only to live life as a follower of Christ, but to live a life of wisdom in this world.
The writer of Proverbs was an astute observer of this world. He said, "Wealth makes many "friends"; poverty drives them away" (Proverbs 19:4, NLT). Contrast that observance of society with James' instruction of how it should be with the people of God: "If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, "You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor" -- well, doesn't this discrimination show that you are guided by wrong motives" (James 2:3, NLT)?
Justice issues are at heart spiritual warfare issues and a matter for both prayer and proactive tactics on the part of the church to right the wrongs of any given culture. You say how? Good question. What are your thoughts on how to take one justice issue in your church community and positively,legally and ethically right the wrong?