Born to poor parents, raised the little regarded region of Galilee under the cruel and oppressive regime of the Roman empire, exiled at a young age, Jesus knew the experience of being underprivileged.
Jesus was also born male in a heavily patriarchal Jewish nation…and time; he was born into a people who regarded themselves religiously superior to other nations. So Jesus also had the experience of being privileged.
Yet Jesus did not allow himself victimized by his under-privilege status nor to be blinded by his privilege.
Jesus displayed the same regard and compassion towards the colonial and overbearing Romans, as he did to his fellow Jews. He healed the servant of the Roman Centurion and even commended his faith as greater than that of his fellow Jews.
Astonishingly, he even commanded his disciples to walk double the requested distance when commandeered to carry a load by the Roman soldiers.
Jesus humanized his inhumane oppressors.
Jesus’ own privilege was not lost to him.
As a Rabbi, he permitted women disciples, when this was unheard of.
Notwithstanding being Jew, he reached out and compassionately ministered to the Samaritans, whom his fellow Jews regarded as defiled and inferior nemesis.
Amazingly, he even elevated the despised Samaritans as morally superior in some of his parables. His peers must have thought of this as a stinging betrayal of his religion, his God and his people.
Jesus abrogated his privileges spectacularly and transcended his underprivileged status emphatically.
Yet the trend among his followers is the exact opposite:
The gender privileged are barricading their privileges in the name of tradition and theology.
The economically and socially privileged people are fighting to preserve their privileges in the name of economic rationality, safety and security.
The religiously privileged are fighting to impose their values in the name of God and religious freedoms.
The politically privileged are fighting to retain their status in the name of economic and political freedom.
The previously enslaved and colonized, are fighting to free their identities from the dark shadows and legacies of their painful history.
As followers of Christ we have a different and perfect model he has given us; to shed off our privileged and underprivileged statuses and take up his transcendent identity, as children of God and coheirs of all creation with him.
For we are called to make disciples of all peoples, privileged and underprivileged; oppressors and the oppressed; abusers and the abused!