Sunday, September 02, 2007

Who's A Bigot Anyway?

I may have to apologise for the title of this post, but the question is an honest one.
We talked this morning about a friend who lives and works in East End Vancouver and quite enjoys the life she has there. The problem was in explaining this choice to the friends of her new beau, they were from a different strata of society and could only see the need to get away from that part of town. The kneejerk response was to call these folks out as some shallow end of the pool socialites who don't want to get their hands dirty. That of course is a carefully contrived label, and one that doesn't fit. It doesn't fit because there are too many edges that stick past the real on both sides. I used to live in that kind of circle and I recognise the parts that the label covers and the parts that it sticks past. Those parts of the label are the ones that talk about hypocrisy and shallowness as described by the more street level saints. It has taken a few more years than I would like to get that stuff out of my eyes and now I see that what used to seem like hypocrisy and shallowness are simply different walks of life. The label would fit better if these people weren't like Zacheus, Matthew and Luke, the doctors and lawyers of their day. They weren't rough smelly fishermen, pimps or even roving minstrels; they were the respected ones (or at least richer ones) of their day. Nicodemus wasn't a bluecollar guy either, he was part of the theocratic power structure of Israel. Each one of these men had their lives changed just as much as the prostitute and the demon possessed, and I'm pretty sure that that change looked different for them than it did for the outcasts. It would probably be easier, though, if we could get them to all look the same because then we could wrap our little brains around it all in one neat little package.
Perhaps, on the other hand, it would all be easier if we adopted the principle that Paul did which allowed him to go from the market stall to the halls of power without a noticeable shift in his demeanor or conversation. He seemed to truly treat each person equally. He saw each person as someone in need of a saviour just as much as the next guy. He told us to not look down on others because we were in the same shoes (and would be again if not for constant shepherding). He didn't delineate between classes or stratas. Everyone got a fair shake, everyone heard the gospel.
I also have always found it interesting that when Paul stood before people of power he never told them that they needed to change their policies or take a closer look at social justice, he simply lifted up Jesus Christ. Wow, I wonder what it would look like if I did that all the time?

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