While I have to applaud the post from The Gospel Coalition today about working – click to read it here – I also found it a step short of where we have to go with it. Per usual really.
What we have to be careful of is propagating the superiority on either side. Our thought process continues in a direction of this kind of work is more lofty than that other kind. It’s like a teeter totter of white and blue collar, some wanting to elevate the rough and dirty jobs because they so desperately want to be respected, while others try to rationalize their deeply rooted beliefs about working hard to get “ahead” in the world, whatever that may look like to you. The janitor who keeps making the right connections and ends up owning the company. Or the reverse, the former CEO who had to take a job at Target stocking shelves because of the economy, and how he is a much better person because of it. It’s good to work hard and to gain skills, but it’s also good to get out of our comfort zones, whether that means sitting behind a desk all day or doing things that, let’s admit it, we used to think were “beneath” us. And it’s also good to remember that our career path is not what defines us, at least not – well, especially not – in the eyes of God.
I’m reminded that God is no respecter of persons. God doesn’t love the white collar worker more or the blue collar worker more. He loves them both equally. He looks on their hearts and He sees what kind of person they long to be, not what they have achieved. You know what He doesn’t love? The arrogance of a person who thinks he earned this life he leads. The haughty eyes of a person who looks at someone with a minimum wage job and actually thinks that person should have worked harder in life or done better in school or made other choices. He loathes the heart of the one who looks around and casts judgment on those who can’t find a decent job because they aren’t trying hard enough or on those who seemed to have an easy ride to the time of whatever ladder they are on. God holds in contempt the one who gossips about a brother or sister, about their lives, speculating about their choices and, worse, their intentions, and spreading rumors or worse still, not caring at all.
Clearly, I’m not saying don’t work hard or try to “better” yourself and your position so that you and your family can benefit from it. But let’s not make a life of leisure our standard for successful living or even the average of living. Let’s stop using the same measurement for all kinds of people or trying to put everyone in the same box and life path that we think is ideal. Let’s stop thinking that the only people who can give seminars about how to be successful are the ones with multi-million dollar homes and European vacation villas, or that God’s blessing only shows up in monetary and materialistic ways, that someone who works hard his whole life and still doesn’t have any kind of savings to speak of is a failure and always made bad choices.
And when it comes to our churches, let’s stop kidding ourselves about who needs the Gospel and who really needs the Gospel. As a primarily affluent church, are we including programs to go out to “underprivileged” people so we feel better about how much we give to the poor and needy, because those people really need Jesus? Are we writing checks and giving free food and patting ourselves on the backs that we are so caring, but continuing to worship in our high crystal towers and creating our “real” community of believers to be made up of little clones attending our little workshops about how to be better middle class white J Crew models? The question is what messages are we sending on a Sunday morning? Or all through the week for that matter?
Our lives aren’t necessarily better, or less in need, because we get paid more or have college degrees. (But don’t get me started on a college education and the socio-economic problems thereof… because that’s a whole new post.) Jesus came for the sick and needy, the hungry and poor. If we don’t see ourselves as those things, whether literally or otherwise, we end up with the temptation to see a superiority in our current station and lifestyle, wherever we fall on the socio-economic strata. No matter what job you have, what size your house, your car, your bank accounts, you are in desperate need. Let’s stop talking in dichotomies and remember that the true Gospel meets us all where we are at and applies to us all at every stage of life we find ourselves. We are missing out on the diverse beauty and broad spectrum of Christ and His Church when our congregations and neighborhoods and life experiences are all the same.