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Life in a chicken-scratch world

Published 12:37am Saturday, November 2, 2013

By Rev. Dr. Chris Surber

There is an exquisite African proverb that says, “Corn can’t expect justice from a court composed of chickens.” So many people in the world must feel like corn on the floor of a henhouse.

Governments, including ours, are filled with chicken politicians more concerned with consuming the corn than cultivating its potential. Corporate leaders are far more concerned with the bottom line and their bonuses than they are with the betterment of their employees.

We live in a chicken-scratch world, where the rooster has his way, and the corn gets devoured.

I’m not a cynic. That’s just the way the world works. Justice for the oppressed is rare, and helping hands to the poor usually come with strings attached. Leaders are usually in it for their benefit, and the underdog usually stays on the bottom of the pile.

That’s the world. It’s unusually cruel, because people with power are usually self-serving.

India is not the only place with a caste system, and even in America it is relatively rare to be born in one class and ascend into another. That’s the world, and that’s OK.

The world is unjust, and we get that. But if you are a follower of Jesus, you aren’t supposed to accept it. You and I are supposed to be at war with it.

In fact, speaking of His ministry on earth and the ministry He does through His Church, Jesus says, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19 NIV84)

You and I, if we are followers of the way of Jesus, are supposed to be at war with the unjust treatment of the world’s poor people. We are called into active lives of declaring justice to the oppressed of the world.

It isn’t enough to pray for the poor while wearing trendy jeans made in a sweat shop by laborers making 13 cents an hour.

If our Christianity does not include a profound consideration of the poor and the oppressed, then we possess a Christianity that is at war with Christ, for it is Christ who has sent His followers on a mission of mercy and compassion. Declaring war with injustice is a part of the mandate of being a Christian.

The Congregational clergyman of a century ago, Washington Gladden, said it this way: “When any duty is to be done, it is fortunate for you if you feel like doing it; but, if you do not feel like it, that is no reason for not doing it.”

In this chicken-scratch world, you and I — if we are Jesus’ ambassadors — may be the only thing standing between the rooster and the corn.

Chris Surber is pastor of Cypress Chapel Christian Church in Suffolk. Visit his website at


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