Monday, March 26, 2007

pull up a chair...

...or, here, take mine.

I was talking with a friend yesterday about community development and missions and such, and he relayed a conversation he had recently with someone he holds a great deal of respect for. They were discussing in James where it discusses the discrimination involved in offering a good seat to a man in fine clothes while telling a poor man to sit on the floor at your feet. My friend's dilemma was that he leans toward the opposite tendency... that of showing favoritism to the poor man at the expense of the rich. How does one find room at the table for both? His conversation partner had a simple response ~ surrender your own seat, and voluntarily take your place on the floor.

In a related story, our very own Ramon Chaparro has had an essay published at Burnside Writers Collective. I'm quite proud of him, so I invite you all to read, comment and discuss.

Establishing tables of equality can start nowhere other than in our own lives. Who do we invite into our homes? Whose are the voices that we let speak into our lives? If we find ourselves agreeing with everyone we spend time with, it might be time we broadened our social circles a bit. This is not simply a matter of being cosmopolitan. This is a foundational step in what it means to move toward a different society, a better kingdom - a kingdom where the weak come to the table with as much confidence as the strong that they will be heard.
~ Ramon Chaparro


Anonymous said...

Humility vs. Complacency

The Bible is a book of phenomenally profound statements made over thousands of years and collected by a culture much different than anything those of us alive in the twenty-first century have ever known. Its authors, the Hebrew people, were a nomadic tribal people who believed in the impossible. They believed in The One, the Light in all beings who (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) wielded the power that brought life to the vastness of an eternity of which a human mind cannot possibly conceive. They somehow envisioned a future in which the Creator of all the worlds would manifest Himself in human form. They wrote about it, predicted it, and expected it. And it happened! The King came. But He wasn’t born into a palace. He was born in a barn; His crib, a feed trough. He didn’t come to win. He came to lose. The Creator of all that ever was or will be: continually rejected, misunderstood, dishonored, neglected and eventually murdered. And he chose it. He chose suffering. What are our choices?
Are we in line with that?

Christ taught by example. He met people where they were. He never expected them to come to Him, even though they did come – repeatedly – to sit at his feet wherever he was. But Jesus went out and found people. Remember Zaccheus? Jesus did not meet Zaccheus in church. In fact, he invited himself to Zaccheus’ home for dinner when he saw him sitting in a tree on the side of the road. Jesus did not ask Zaccheus to come to the synagogue and pray. He did not ask him to join the choir. He did not try to get him involved in some Sunday School Department’s next dinner social. He went to where Zaccheus was and changed his life there – on the spot. His presence had to have been (is) the most convincing thing – the deciding factor.

When we teach the individuals who volunteer for leadership positions in our churches to organize rolls and make phone calls to get folks to come to church – even to our gatherings in the relative “safety” of our homes, we have already thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Our primary goal should be to become available wherever people are – interact with them – learn their names – become their friends. This is what we should teach. When we allow the attitudes among our congregations and communities that the sinners in the bars and honky tonks need our prayers and not our participation, we teach distrust and arrogance. Humility, it seems, is the strange antithesis of Complacency.

Let us, then, be careful to be involved enough in someone's life before we presume to sit at table with them and expect that they can see the Creator of the Universe in us. Let us be involved to the point of suffering. This is a relationship. This is Christ. It must cost us something. We must wrap our pride in swaddling clothes and lay it in the dog's bowl. Bow our will to the will of the ONE. Come undone. Weep. Fast. Die.

Ramón said...

I love your friend's conversation partner's response. I wish that my first response was always in that spirit of humility.

"Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:43b-45)

This is the last thing Jesus taught his disciples before the symbolic healing of blind Bartimaeus, who "followed him on his way".

the blackwells said...

Hey Kim! Got your comment on our blog -- fun surprise! Here's a link so you don't have to figure out how you made it there. ;)