Tag Archives: status

Overrated/Underrated

Biblical Text: Mark 9:30-37
Full Sermon Draft

The text is the second passion prediction of Jesus. The first one ended in Peter attempting to rebuke Jesus and Jesus calling Peter Satan. The point of all these passion predictions has to do with the question “where do you find God?” It is natural to think you find God in the power and the glory – at the top of the mountain. The point of the passion predictions is that God in this world is found most securely on the cross. In out lives, the place we are most likely to find God is not in the mountaintop experience. In fact those mountaintop experiences are often false or even manufactured by the enemy. In our lives the place we find God is in service to our neighbor. So while the world is obsessed with status, and that is what the disciples are discussing on the road. Who has the most status after Jesus? The Kingdom of God abides by a different idea. The idea that our status chase is an unnecessary fear, because the Father watches even the sparrow. The son embraces the least among us.

Father’s Day, Baseball, Status and Religion

worker-vineyard_bas_reliefThis is Fay Vincent, former Commissioner of Baseball, reflecting on some of his Father’s advice. Most of it is fine stuff. Advice to live a quiet honorable life. That and one line of his advice is what crosses into another column.

Here my father reflected the Great Depression and his experience of graduating from Yale with every athletic honor—only to discover the sole job available was digging post holes for the local electric utility

Reflect for a second on a generation and culture where digging post holes is where you started, even with a Yale degree. Also reflect for a second on that Yale sheepskin holder gladly doing that work. What does it suggest both about work and the cultural view of it?

This is David Brooks reflecting on a very similar move by another father.

About a century ago, Walter Judd was a 17-year-old boy hoping to go to college at the University of Nebraska. His father pulled him aside and told him that, though the family had happily paid for Judd’s two sisters to go to college, Judd himself would get no money for tuition or room and board.

His father explained that he thought his son might one day go on to become a fine doctor, but he had also seen loose tendencies. Some hard manual labor during college would straighten him out.

As Brooks goes on “Judd went on to become a doctor, a daring medical missionary and a prominent member of Congress between 1943 and 1963.”

That advice and actions of both of those Fathers would leave many aghast today is my bet. Brooks captures something true I think.

More important, that people then were more likely to assume that jobs at the bottom of the status ladder were ennobling and that jobs at the top were morally perilous. That is to say, the moral status system was likely to be the inverse of the worldly status system. The working classes were self-controlled, while the rich and the professionals could get away with things.

These mores, among other things, had biblical roots. In the Torah, God didn’t pick out the most powerful or notable or populous nation to be his chosen people. He chose a small, lowly band…In the New Testament, Jesus blesses the poor, “for yours is the kingdom of God.” But “woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.”

Work in and of itself was ennobling and worthwhile. Even the rich and powerful had a moral check on them, and like the unjust judge (Luke 18:2-8), even if they thought it was bunk, they’d have to give justice to stop the outcry. With the rolling outright rejection of Christianity and more important Christendom (simply the understanding that the state is taught its ethics by the church), that check is gone. Like Paul says in Romans, if you won’t be instructed by the Word, God says fine and hands you over to your desires. And so we have naked lawless state that feels no shame in lying to us or listening in on whatever they want to. In fact they feel justified and get angry when countered because after all they are at the top of the only status hierarchy left. Who are you to complain? On what legitimate basis?

[Insert “repent, return to the Word, and God may yet be merciful” sermon.]

Status Games

Full Text

Text: Luke 14:1-14

“…The human economy runs on quid pro quo. We buy things to signal status. We look at each other for affirmation of our status. We give and get expecting repayment. Those who can’t repay or can’t help are either in our debt or never considered. But Jesus is talking about the wedding feast, the resurrection of the just. In the Kingdom of God, there is only one person who can give status – the Father alone. And the Father has chosen to give the Kingdom to the crucified. The Father has chosen to give the good news to the poor, the blind, the dead…”