One of the things that I’ll never forget from my years at the seminary was something that took place at orientation my first year. It was when the president of the seminary Dr. Dale Meyer got up to speak to my class of new seminarians. In his orientation speech he spoke of how he was a member of the Capital Hill Club and how he knew a good amount of politicians. Not surprisingly many were impressed by this. But there’s something about this that I think reveals a deeper issue about us Christians in America.
Like the disciples of old (Mark 10: 35-45) we like status, we like importance and as a result we like knowing and rubbing shoulders with the powerful and the important in our society. In our minds that means legitimacy in the eyes of the world, it means that we matter, and in some regards that we matter more than others. And it makes us feel good. Maybe in some ways this just coincides with the American Dream of climbing the social ladder. I don’t know but it matters to a lot of us. We enjoy going up in society and being with the movers and shakers. But it’s odd to me that we, the people of God, are enamored with such things given that the One whom we believe and follow had little to no regard for those in power and often openly mocked them. The reality is that Jesus had no regard for the social titles and social elite the way that most had then and still have today. In fact, he’s not at all concerned with climbing the social ladder and is pretty good at burning bridges with those who “mattered.”
But I must confess there are times when I want such social standing too or at least that sense of importance within the church at large. But then I am called back to the Gospels and I see a God who is concerned with what’s below and I’m convicted. He spends time with the poor, the oppressed and downtrodden and lives in a way that is ruinous in the eyes of the world and would prove to be ruinous in regards to his own life. And I find more and more that I want to go down, not up. I want to shed of myself utterly open to others serving them without concern with what they can do for me. I’m honestly tired of the bragging about churches and numbers, of the special people we know, I’m tired of operating within the world’s purview of what’s good and what’s bad. All of which I am guilty of doing too. I want to go down, not up. I really don’t care if you know politicians or minister to millionaire lawyers or live in the greatest city in the world. It didn’t and doesn’t matter to Jesus so why should it matter to me, why should it matter to you? After all, it was the powerful and elite who put Jesus to death because he spoke and embodied the Truth.