Loosening the Chains of the Morally Poor

Loosening the Chains of the Morally Poor

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Warm up

Do you support a charity or community group that helps people who are poor, struggling, or marginalised? Why did you choose to support that charity or group?

Morality and the Christian Faith

From the moment of fall at creation, we as a human race have struggled with deciding between right and wrong – to live God’s way or our way. This call to be “morally rich” is directed to individuals and groups.

Reflecting Questions:

  1. Read 2 Peter 1:5-7. What does Paul call Christians to “supplement” their faith with? How would these help us to make better moral or ethical decisions?
  2. Read 1 Corinthians 15:33. Do you think that the people we associate with can influence our moral decisions?
  3. Read Isaiah 34:1-6,11,15-16. Why was God angry with the “shepherds of Israel” (the people in power)? Why does God wish for us to not just “take care of ourselves”?
  4. A google search on “making moral/ethical decisions” listed Micah 6:8. Do you think this is a good verse in deciding right and wrong?

Deep Dive – Big issues that have arisen through morally poor decisions by others…

When governments, or groups or people in power make morally poor decisions, the consequences can affect more than themselves.  The implications of these bad decisions can impact widely and long after the decision was made.  Choose one or two of the following examples and dive deeper into what the Bible might say about these issues and what a considered Christian response might be.

Climate Change


Climate change and Bangladesh … does it impact on poorer nations unequally?

Reflecting Questions:

  1. How do you respond to the Video? What struck you? What surprised you? What challenged you?  How do you respond to the idea that climate change affects those who are poor the most?
  2. Read Genesis 2:15.  Note, the Hebrew words translated “work” and “take care of” may also be translated “serve” and “preserve”.  Does this give a different perspective on how we relate to creation?
  3. Read Leviticus 25:1-7.  How do we show that God has given us the land, rain, and crops?  Do we enjoy a break from work, during which we can relax and thank God?  Is it possible to overwork the land?
  4. Ben suggests that many of the lifestyle changes we can make in response to climate change are good things to do in themselves. Can you share a story of something that you do, or a story you have heard of someone else doing, which is helping to “renew the creation”?


Read (or skim over to remind yourself of) 2 Samuel 11:1‐27

Reflecting Questions:

  1. Why could David take Uriah’s wife? 
  2. Would David have done the same if she had married an Israelite?
  3. How are people today disadvantaged, or taken advantage of, because of their race or immigrant status? What can we do about this?

Additional Exercise:

Read the following telephone conversation between a mother and her undocumented child. This was a dialogue sermon preached at Las Americas/Trinity UMC in Des Moines. The writer of the sermon is the undocumented child in the story. Because he was ornery as a child, he was sent to the U.S. at the age of 14. And because of his small yet wiry build, he was recruited by the coyotes (those who lead people across the border for large sums of money). Eventually he was left in a house by himself by the coyotes and was told to either get some money from his brother or die in the house. Since then, he has graduated from the University of Northern Iowa and is currently attending a United Methodist seminary.

MOTHER: Child! When are you coming home? You’ve been away for many years.

UNDOCUMENTED CHILD: Soon, Mother! I am trying to finish seminary and save enough money to go see you. If I go now, I won’t be able to come back to the U.S.

MOTHER: What are you afraid of?

UC: I’ve been away for so long. Remember, I’ve been away for nine years. I am afraid that I don’t remember the taste of your delicious food. I am afraid I have forgotten the feeling of your hugs and kisses. I am afraid I cannot remember your beautiful smile.

MOTHER: I look at the pictures of when you were a baby, small and innocent. I don’t know how you look now! I still have that chair on which you sat for hours watching cartoons. I used to yell at you to turn off the TV. Now I stare at that chair for hours, wishing you were here watching cartoons.

UC: Mother! I don’t know who I am anymore. The people in this country tell me that I don’t belong. People from my home country judge me because I like peanut butter and jelly.

MOTHER: Child, you remind me of the Bible story about Uriah, the Hittite. He was an immigrant like you. He was from the land of the Hittites. He was living in Jerusalem, the capital of those who had conquered his country. He was never really accepted as an Israelite but in fact he was more of an Israelite than King David because he followed all the laws of Moses. Uriah was married to Bathsheba, and David wanted her for himself so he stole her, and in order to cover his action ordered Uriah to be assassinated in battle.

UC: Mother! I am trying to do what’s right. They exploit me because I don’t have a voice. The system steals my labour and my dreams. And like David, they would rather see me die in battle and steal what’s mine.

MOTHER: Child, many of your sisters and brothers have died in battle. Many Uriahs have died and what little they had was taken from them. My sons and daughters who are there, like Uriah, are as U.S. citizens as anyone can be.

UC: Mother. What should I do? I am not from here and I am not from there. I am lost in limbo. I cannot go back to you because this is my new home. I feel uncomfortable here because they call me “illegal.”

MOTHER: Illegal!!? What crime did you commit? Have you killed somebody or stolen or hurt others?

UC: No! They call me “illegal” because I dare to dream big, because I want a better future for you and the rest of our family, because I work hard and don’t complain.

MOTHER: Why are you still there? Why don’t you come home?

UC: Because, Mother, in some places back home they want to kill me because I stood up against oppression. In other places, I could not manage to support my family. Also, I grew up here, my English is better than my Spanish native tongue.

MOTHER: Child. When will this end? When am I going to see you, to hug you, and kiss you? When will I cook your favourite food? Will you come back as a child and sit at that chair and watch cartoons? I promise I will not yell at you.

UC: Mother, I don’t know. The “Davids” of this world will steal from us and kill us because we are doing the right thing. I may see you when I get deported. Poor, naked, and ashamed I will come knocking on your door. Please, Mother, when that happens let me in because I am lost in limbo.

MOTHER: My child, I will always love you. Injustice is devouring my children everywhere. Who will go and rescue the children from the demon of injustice?

Discuss the following questions:

  1. Why did the mother compare her son’s situation to Uriah’s?
  2. Who is the son referring to when he speaks of the “Davids” of this world?
  3. Share your feelings about the son being upset with the system when he’s in the country as an undocumented. Why should he be upset when he is here “illegally?”
  4. The son says he does not have a voice due to exploitation. What do you think he is referring to and do you agree or disagree? What is the “system” he refers to that steals his labour and dreams?



How Corporate Greed Drives Inflation (Robert Reich)

Reflecting Questions:

  1. We live in a time when real wage growth is stagnating (especially for lower paying jobs) and yet the cost of living is increasing – making the struggling poor even poorer.  How do we respond to the idea that large corporations may just be increasing prices to raise profits because they can?  Is there anything we can do about it?
  2. Read 2 Corinthians 8:13-15.  What is the advantage of trying help others and bring a sense of equality in what we all have?
  3. Read Ecclesiastes 5:8-15.  What can we take from this passage about wealth, justice and the meaning of life?
  4. Read Philippians 2:3-4.  Many modern writers are suggesting that the antidote for greed might be a healthy understanding of self-interest.  “There is a place for legitimate self–interest, to which the Bible periodically appeals, only it must be balanced by a compassionate concern for the interest of others.”  How might we be able to use all our God-given gifts, including our wealth, in a way that serves our own needs while serving the needs of others?

Prayer:   Seeing with Fresh Eyes


Brooke Prentice (who was with Common Grace) encourages us to consider “seeing with fresh eyes” the issue of indigenous disadvantage and other issues of justice.  (4mins)

Reflecting Questions:

  1. How do you respond to the Video? What struck you? What surprised you? What challenged you?
  2. Who are the neighbours around us that we need to see with fresh eyes? Which neighbour do you need to love? What are the issues that we know are there but we never really stepped closer to see what the real issue is and how we can help?

The intent in Jesus’ challenge of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) is to love. To love in spite of any differences as this reflects the heart and nature of Jesus. As a group you are encouraged to pray for fresh eyes to see, fresh minds to discern and a fresh commitment to be the hands and feet of Jesus that act to show love and care to all.

You may like to have a time of open prayer, or you can pray an adaption of a prayer that Brooke wrote for the ChangeTheHeart prayer service:

Great Creator Spirit, we pray together unto you.
Jesus, we lament the injustice of the past
and the ongoing injustice in the present
Jesus, we confess we have contributed to injustice
We confess to having not loved our neighbour as you have called
We know we must do better and we must make things right.
Jesus, we ask for your guidance as we seek justice in our lifetime
Jesus, we ask you
To open our eyes to see as you see
To open our ears to hear as you hear
To open our minds to truth as you know
To open our hearts to love as you love
As a movement of people pursuing Jesus and justice,
we come together for the common good
We discover common ground and share in common grace
We long to embrace unity with diversity
May the beats of many hearts create a beautiful symphony in tune,
in rhythm, With each other, with all of creation, and with Jesus.

ther in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.  Save us from trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours. Now and for ever. Amen.