I received this “Privilege Test” shown above and upon reviewing it, I was enlightened and yet provoked by it as well. And so I’d like to explore further.
I believe that in a certain sense, the church is privileged. And not in a bad way. Kingdom citizens are privileged because we are graced. We are given the right to inherit the kingdom and to know and enjoy the presence of the king. But, what if privileged positions were used to help those in need? I think this is exactly what God desires. As God said to Abram, “I will bless you and make you admirable”. In other words, “I’m preferring you. You are special to me, and I have set you apart from the rest”. But, God didn’t stop there. He continued, “and you will be a blessing to others”. God selected Abram to be his dispenser of blessings. Same with the church, God chose us to be an instrument of blessings to others.
Review the “How Privileged Are You Test” and go online and find out what the demographics of your community are. If the demographics of your community was a person, where would they fall on the privilege test? Now, do the same with your faith community. How do the two compare? Which community is more privileged? If the church is more privileged, what must the church do to reach out and connect with that community?
Another thing you might want to do is identify the “least of these” – the underprivileged group in your community. Who are they? Is it a certain race, sexual orientation, country of origin, or? These questions are important because they lead to more important questions. Would the underprivileged in your community feel welcomed if they walked through your church doors? Stop, and think about it. Put yourself in their shoes. If they wouldn’t feel welcomed, then there’s a problem with the church’s image and approach.
Take a look at the congregation of your faith community. Take a look at the church’s advertisements. What kind of people do they show? Do the images speak to the underprivileged? Or, do they cater to the privileged in your community? For many churches, the target audience in their evangelistic and missional pursuit just might need to be adjusted.
Now, privilege and power isn’t an injustice in itself. Injustice is justice perverted. Justice isn’t about equal or shared power, but using whatever power one has rightfully. We all have power, whether you realize it or not. But, when we recognize we have power over others, we must submit those powers to God and use it appropriately. He bestows power upon people so that they might use it to bring glory to him and exercise justice in the world. We, the church, are empowered by the Spirit to empower the powerless. God’s mission is our mission – to make things right, in this life and the life to come. And we do this with power and privilege.
We must realize that in this broken world, abuses of power are present and manifested in various forms. This occurs in relationships, with strangers, in churches, businesses, and governments. People and institutions will pervert and abuse their power and privileges. But in the midst of it, we press on and resist the unholy powers that be. We fight against these powers that hide behind these manifestations. We make it known and implore that the powerful would repent, and at the same time we comfort those who have been hurt by them. God gives us the power and strength to stand our ground, to stand with others, and move toward justice.
Jesus had once said, “the poor will always be with us”. In other words, the existence of an underprivileged society is an ever-present reality. Then should we just give up? Of course not. What this means is that there’s an ever-present job, and we must work it continually. It will never end. Our job will never be finished. As long as Jesus has yet to come back, the mission is un-accomplished. Because the underprivileged will always be with us, we will always have a job. What are you and the church doing?
- Bring awareness about any abuses of power which are affecting the people in your community. Who are the oppressors in your community? What ways can you make these injustices known?
- Empower the weak and oppressed. How can you and the church stand with, support, and/or serve the least of these in your community? How can you bring happiness to those who are mourning?