Josh j Smith

Opportunity | Oppressed
June 3, 2008, 7:27 am
Filed under: religion | Tags: , , , , , ,


The beauty of visiting another culture is not merely seeing the different colors and facs of a culture.  It is not only experiencing the night-life and tasting the food.  Much of the beauty lies in the subtle change that emerges in my own thinking that occurs as a natural part of engaging another culture.  

From my western/American point of view, life is acquired through opportunity.  Depending on what kind of family, neighborhood, or school, opportunity is either given or it has to be taken.  Thus, opportunity is simply a choice for me to capitalize  on to make my life what I want it to be.  

My understanding of opportunity became obvious to me when I engaged the Kmer people.  It became even more noticeable when I walked through the Killing Fields Museum where deep graves with articles of clothing still remain from the genocide that happened only 30 years ago.  Just like every other museum, it tells a story, but it is not a great story… yet.  

The implications of genocide are deep and cannot be resolved through a couple of political programs or foreign support.  In addition, the genocide that happened in Cambodia was not generational or racial.  In attempt to make the country completely communist the Kmer Rouge thought it was only fair to eliminate all the educated leaders in the society.  All doctors, leaders of the group who was trying to bring in democracy, teachers, university teachers, etc.  Once the Kmer Rouge was neutralized, Cambodia had already been paralyzed developmentally.  

The sad thing about this story is that all the people living in poverty and the families who have been torn apart had no choice in the matter.  The awkward thing about it is that when I engage Cambodia I am disturbed by the fact I had no choice in my extreme wealth.  But in my extreme wealth I have a choice to do something about their poverty.  

All this to say, I don’t it comes down to choice for everyone to improve their living situation.  The story goes deeper.  It is not simply a story of economics and choices.  It is a story of oppressed and blessed.  It is a story of being truly human.  It is a story of living imago dei (in the image of God).

The genocide is over, but the oppression is not.  The wake of the genocide is visible when I see extreme poverty and extreme wealth.  The line between rich and poor is so bold that the rich keep getting richer and poor get poorer.  And when I think about gospel, all I ask is, “How can the church bring heaven to earth for the Kmer people?”

 When Jesus brought the kingdom of God, he rescued the poor and challenged the rich; he forgave the repentant and challenged the righteous.  I think he did this because the gospel is not supposed to eliminate social classes, but challenged the rich and righteous to bless the poor and oppressed.  Also, the gospel forces me to question whether I am the poor or the rich, the repentant or the righteous. Regardless of income, social status, and number years as Christian, I think Jesus challenges us to be poor, to be repentant.  Finally, the gospel challenges me to think when I need Jesus, or when I need to be Jesus.  



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So I read your latest blog entry. I love it. I love the maturity you possess in your thinking. I love the conclusions that you came up with. And the older I get the more I realize living in the realm of poor and repentant is best spot to be in. Thinking I am righteous and rich only gets me further into frustrations and short comings. Well put. And is it possible to need Jesus and need to be Jesus everyday and at the same times? That is how I feel currently. Anyway I also wanted to thank you for being an inspiration to me. After reading your blogs and loving them, I had this strong desire to write. So I bought a journal to just develop that skill again. However, last night I blogged for the first time on Myspace. I loved it – I think. Well I mean I had to of loved it I wrote two more entries today. I feel so alive as a result. So thanks – bro!

Comment by Jessica Smith

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