Why do we need to see social injustice as a spiritual problem? Because the people being violated and oppressed are image bearers of God.
We are continuing in our study of Amos, but let’s turn back for a moment to Genesis 1:26–28. This is the theological background behind Amos 2. The poor, the afflicted, the innocent, the weak, and the young girls all are made in God’s image. They all have the imago Dei in them; they are all imprinted with the image of God. In other words, the vulnerable are sacred. They are God’s property; they belong to Him. Thus, when any injustice is committed against the vulnerable, and any human for that matter, it is an offense against God. Since God’s name is stitched inside everyone’s DNA code, since His image is stamped on every person, social injustices are an attack against God.
This is why God hates all injustices. This is why God stands in judgment against Israel. God cannot tolerate injustices, oppression, and violence, and He will at some point put an end to it.
Before moving, we want to make one more comment on the Imago Dei. Did God say in Genesis 1 that He made only the vulnerable in His image? Did He say that He made only the rich in His image? Or only men or women? No, God made every human being in His image. Every person has been imprinted with God’s image. Every human, no matter their ethnicity are made in God’s image. Every human, regardless of their economic status is made in God’s image. Moreover, every human regardless of their physical stature and capabilities, no matter their intellectual capacities, are made in God’s image. The infant born with HIV AIDS is made in God’s image. The baby with Down Syndrome is made in God’s image. The child who cannot speak due to mental disabilities is made in God’s image. The teenager with cerebral palsy is made in God’s image. The adult with schizophrenia is made in God’s image. The middle-age person with depression is made in God’s image. The elderly with Alzheimers are made in God’s image. And the unborn baby, every baby in the womb, is made in God’s image. This is the scope of God’s image; there is no human being on planet earth that is without it.
Therefore, every human life, no matter their circumstance, is sacred and worthy.
This is why every person should be treated with the highest dignity, respect, and justice. God does not take this lightly. This means for us that we must elevate our views and treatment of all people. How do we view people? Are there people that you think of as less or look down upon? Is there a singular person or a whole category of people that you feel superior to?
We want to get personal here.
Let us give a list of some people that our society looks down upon and possibly even us. First, the homeless – we think they are crooks, we think that they are in their state because of their laziness or foolishness, and think we need to “protect” ourselves against them, instead of showing them the love of God. Second, criminals – we think they have messed up so many times in life that they are unforgivable and that they don’t deserve more chances, and if we can more real, we also think less of people who we think look like criminals. Third, the disabled – we have neither the patience nor time with people in wheelchairs or who are mentally handicapped and find it easier to just avoid them rather than to go through the effort of helping them. This is a sad reality yet true even in the church, even among people who call themselves Christians.
There are certainly more that can be added to this list. But here’s the truth: every time we think less about the people we just mentioned, every time we think less of them and treat them accordingly, we offend God.
We sin against Him; we profane His name by mistreating people that He made and dearly loves. How dare we do this! So if we have done this, and we know each of us has, we must repent. Let us confess our sin to God right now.
Lord, forgive me for viewing other people as less. Forgive me for acting out on my unjust, unbiblical thoughts. And after we have confessed our sin, let us pray that God will replace our condescension, our hate or disgust, with love.