Before you read this, go find a paper clip. Go ahead, I’ll just wait here…found one? Great! I hope you didn’t have to grab it from a stack of papers that fell everywhere, but if you did…I promise it will be worth it.
The Bible talks about breaking chains of oppression in Psalm 107:14, Psalm 146, Isaiah 52:2, Isaiah 58:6 and Isaiah 61. Specifically, Isaiah 58:6-7 says: “This is the kind of fast day I’m after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts. What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families.”
What if breaking the chains of oppression lead us to living into the freedom and community of a Kingdom chain?
Stick with me because we think of chains as only being constrictive and being bound. But what if we can flip that perspective and imagine a chain of paper clips or pieces of paper all linked together?
A chain so intricately woven by God that we are all connected.
From Adam and Eve to Abraham to Moses to Tamar to Rahab to David to Esther to Isaiah to Deborah to Ezekiel to Mary to Jesus to Peter to Paul to Lydia to St. Augustine to Martin Luther to John Wesley to Richard Allen to Tolkien to CS Lewis to Bonhoeffer to Susan Angeline Collins to Harriet Tubman to Mother Teresa to Martin Luther King to whoever you might look to learn from in our Christian lineage to the current leaders that we learn from (Michael Frost, NT Wright, Efrem Smith, Alan Hirsch, and Albert Tate for me) and the pastors that have helped mold us and then to the person you were next to last in a posture of worship and the other follower of Jesus worshipping in their car during traffic…and to YOU and everyone who will feel grace, love and acceptance as you walk with them.
You are just as important in this Kingdom chain as anyone I just listed and didn’t list. We are not ranked. We are not lesser. We are all equal in God’s Kingdom and together we form this intricately woven Kingdom chain that is so long we would never possibly walk to the physically beginning piece, and the end is not even close to being found since we are still building for God’s Kingdom.
Still have your paper clip? Good. Link it into this epically long chain, friend, because your piece of the chain must be included. Image all these folks having their own paper clips and added theirs – all forged together end to end to end. In all our humanness, in all our shitty moments and our magnificent moments…it all fits in messy gloriousness. Without your piece – your unique, valuable, colorful, worthy piece – the chain falls apart never to know what it could have been with your piece. You are needed and necessary to God’s Kingdom. From the moment you were born to the moment you take your last breath…your piece belongs and has infinite value for the Kingdom. That is how unbelievably important your piece is to this Kingdom chain…but you have a God-given mission.
We must take the chains of oppression and the chains of sin: racism, hate, division, greed, and ego, and shatter them into oblivion. Then we get to participate and work toward transforming their hideousness into a Kingdom chain that God uses to build his Kingdom for all who crave his restoration, unity, and love.
But did we actually take responsibility?
Instead, we get distracted. We get consumed by ‘life.’ We let others do the work.
The strength of your piece in the Kingdom chain matters. What that looks like for you could be a million things, but bottom line is how you use your piece of the chain in loving God and loving others to bring restoration and wholeness for building God’s Kingdom.