Airlines basically try to re-create middle school society: a small clique of the privileged few envied by everyone on the outside. John Ortberg, Who Is This Man?
I wrote last time about the phenomenon of saving seats for the privileged few. In Rome, reserving special treatment for men of high status served to reinforce social class hierarchy. Jesus taught us not to do that. His brother, James, was very explicit in his instructions to treat everyone the same. But it’s a tough habit to break.
It even happens on airplanes! Ortberg’s commentary on this is so funny. (You’ll find it in Chapter 6.) In the airport, before you get on the plane, there’s a special place set aside where only first-class passengers can walk. It’s just two feet to the right from where everybody else gets to walk, and there’s a little red carpet. You can’t walk on that four-foot piece of carpet unless you have a first-class ticket. Who cares? You’re all going down the same jetway in a minute. Everyone’s going to walk down the exact same tunnel to get to their seats.
I understand that first-class passengers pay more money. But just the fact that we still perform these social class scenarios – like giving people special red carpets to walk on – reminds us that this is how it’s always been done, from the beginning of time.
But Jesus came and said, “Yeah, that’s not how the Kingdom of God works. In the Kingdom of God, the first will be last, and the last will be first. It’s an upside-down kingdom. The weakest will be the strongest in His Kingdom. The humblest and the meekest will be honored.”
Jesus destroyed every thought process! He went out on a limb and broke all traditions! Back in His day, you treated the men wearing “a gold ring and fine robes” differently because that is what you were supposed to do. So when Jesus commanded his followers to act as though class status didn’t matter, He just absolutely broke the tradition. He said, “No, you don’t do that. You treat everyone the same.”
Jesus literally had no problem challenging your moral code. He had no problem making you rethink right and wrong. He had no problem challenging your assumptions, breaking your habits, and making you look at the world around you and really think about how things are “supposed” to be. He challenged traditions and broke them. He did it without apology and He did it without fear. But in doing this, He united people. He empowered people who were told every day that they have no power. Jesus wasn’t afraid to say, “This is my opinion, and here’s why.”
This is so important to me because Jesus got together with people and He talked to them. They listened and they asked Him questions, and He asked them questions, and there was dialogue. Now, we’re afraid to even do that. We don’t want to do that. We’re like, “Unless you’re in my camp, beat it.” Well, time out!
When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, He humbled Himself as a servant, but He also broke all tradition doing that. And He didn’t care! He said, “It’s not about tradition. It’s not about whether you have money. It’s not about whether you deserve a certain status in society or not. It’s about loving your neighbor as yourself. It’s about being a community. It’s about joining together as one unit to make society work in a way that’s full of love.” And it does work. It works because we’re serving one another.
See you Saturday. Happy Thanksgiving!