Missing it

This post might be a little “all over the place”.  It has been a long time since I’ve blogged and I am out of practice.

(Part 1) I think this post started with the shooting of Michael Brown on August 9, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.  The incident sparked protests across America and in the aftermath a lot was written on inequality and the state of discrimination and indifference in America.  Two of my favourite bloggers, Kathy Escobar and Jason Bradley also added their thoughts in the aftermath.  You can read their thoughts here and here.  I replied to Jason, but because my writing can suddenly take a life of its own and I am not always very good at communicating, I gave as Jason put it a hyper-spiritualized response 😦  Oh well, so much for the art of sticking to the topic.  Both their posts revealed insight and awareness on the issue of privilege.  Privilege puts one in a position to help the downtrodden.  It puts you in a position to help those with no voice to speak…… and be heard.  Privilege gives you a platform from which you can launch helpful interventions.  Christians in the West are mostly privileged and it can use their advantage to help those less fortunate.  I think Jason nailed it and Kathy’s sensitive approach is needed.

(Part 2) It was my hyper-spiritualized response that bothered me. Why did I go off track? Perhaps it is my dwindling attention span as I get older? I wrote the following..

I do not believe that privileged people can give unprivileged people anything of value. It is the other way around. In God’s kingdom it is the unprivileged that knows how the kingdom work. The privileged needs to be between the unprivileged to experience the kingdom of God and learn how to share when you have nothing to give and love when hope and faith is gone. Those with power, trust in it and as long as they do, cannot understand the Kingdom of God.
We think that people who have, are privileged. We are wrong. God will reveal His Kingdom, but it will not be through us, the privileged.

“Privileged people can not give unprivileged people anything of value.”  Sheesh, what was I smoking? Of course they can and I was off topic. I talked to God about it.  Where did this left field response come from?

It took me a while, but I finally figured out there is something in my heart that has been growing and I did not have the words to express them.  Jason’s blog helped me.  Let me see if I can express it more clearly.

It starts with Matthew 4:17 where Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is here or at hand depending on the translation you use.  We further see that the Kingdom of God is bound to the Person of Jesus.  In Luke He says “For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God or heaven throughout the gospels.  I am not going to go into great detail on the Kingdom of God except to say that it is here, now.  (There are people who differ from me on this.)

Anyway, in Matthew 19:16-25 we have the story of the rich young man who came to Jesus and asks what he must do to obtain eternal life.  First Jesus tells him to keep the commandments.  The young man affirms that he is keeping them and then Jesus tells him to sell all he has and follow Jesus.  He went away sad because he had a lot of stuff.  Then Jesus said this, “23 Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24″Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”  The young man missed the Kingdom right in front of him.

This brings me back to privilege.  It seems from this passage that privilege blinds us to the Kingdom here and now.  The rich young man could not enter a kingdom because he could not see it.  The same with us who are privileged now.  We do not see the Kingdom because our privilege is blinding us from what God is doing now.  Jesus told the young man to get rid of his privilege.  He could not.  Can we?  Can I?  This is where people will tell me that I am taking this to far.  This is not what is meant by these passages. You will say to me that you are already a Christian and thus already in the Kingdom.  Yes and no.  We can be part of something and still miss the essence of it.  The older brother of the prodigal could not see even when he was next to the Father.  Our privilege blinds us.

Perhaps this post is born in the inequality I see in the church and the part that irks me, is that haves (privileged) are the only ones that can give.  It is the well spoken, the good looking, the athletic, the bold, the talented, the clever, the successful, the miracle and the example who are active visible part of church.  Power, wisdom and knowledge flows from them to those less fortunate in the congregation.   What can God do through the less fortunate or are the less fortunate only present to give the haves function and meaning?    WHAT CAN THE POOR GIVE THE PRIVILEGED????  Well, I believe the poor can give you the full Kingdom of God, but you will have to leave privilege to see it.  Let me give a few verses and you can explain them back to me.

Matthew 5:3
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Luke 6:20
Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

Matthew 25:45
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ (Sheep and the goats.)

1 Corinthians 12:22
On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,

We have to stop believing that privilege is an enabler in the Kingdom.  It is not.  It blinds us.

Children share

I’ll end with my hyper-spiritualized response, this time within context.

I do not believe that privileged people can give unprivileged people anything of value. It is the other way around. In God’s kingdom it is the unprivileged that knows how the kingdom work. The privileged needs to be between the unprivileged to experience the kingdom of God and learn how to share when you have nothing to give and love when hope and faith is gone. Those with power, trust in it and as long as they do, cannot understand the Kingdom of God.
We think that people who have, are privileged. We are wrong. God will reveal His Kingdom, but it will not be through us, the privileged.

If we as church do not understand this, we will always struggle be be light and salt for the earth and we will miss the Kingdom here and now.