Archive for servitude

STEP IN

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by Reagan Pugh

Reagan shares thoughts while he studies abroad at Universitas Castillae in Valladolid, Spain. He is currently the student body President at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. He likes Tootsie Rolls, sushi, and the little green chocolately mints you get at some Mexican food restaurants. You can also check it his personal blog at www.goodpancreas.com

I’m sitting here at ¨La Banque – Croissanterie,¨among the old, middle aged and wealthy twenty-somethings. Here, in the beauty of my time abroad it is so very difficult to imagine simplicity and doing without. For- I have just now finished my coffee and croissant, served to me by the same waiter I’ve had every time I’ve been here, no matter what day. Today is Sunday, he has no Sabbath. Not only him, but there is an older lady who, shawl on head, normally meanders by the tables of folks sipping Sangria and asks for change. She had a cut on her nose last week and had to use a peeled off barcode sticker to stop the bleeding. She was laughed at.

What is so interesting is that as I sit here and try to gauge my actions accordingly, I recall my parents always telling me, ¨Don´t give to the beggars, they´ll always want more and never be satisfied¨ even more astounding than that is I am told that when on MISSION TRIPS! Where does that fit in with Christ´s commands? How could I possibly call myself a Christian when I hold a job where I make more than my waiter who is at least half my age and tip sparingly because he wasn’t pleasant and keep my change and kindness from a woman who deserves my respect and love?

And how do Christians, ones whom I admire for that matter, justify such actions in the name of ¨safety¨ or ¨conservation¨ and completely ignore Christ´s commandments? I´ve heard too many times: ¨We can´t give all of our money away¨ or ¨I have to take care of my family as well¨ – but aren’t Christ’s commands about loving the least of these quite explicit? And if his commands fall short, isn’t the way he lived, which is the example we are supposed to follow a good enough guide? I think Shane Claiborne is onto something when he says, ¨Jesus wrecked my life¨ because the way Christ wants us to live is anything but practical and we Christians have forgotten that. For, Christ explicitly says:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Bill McKibben, in his essay, The Christian Paradox says this about the two greatest commandments, the second in particular:

“Love your neighbor as yourself: although its rhetorical power has been dimmed by repetition, that is a radical notion, perhaps the most radical notion possible. Especially since Jesus, in all his teachings, made it very clear who the neighbor you were supposed to love was: the poor person, the sick person, the naked person, the hungry person.”

He also says:

“The Bible is a long book, and even the Gospels have plenty in them, some of it seemingly contradictory and hard to puzzle out. But love your neighbor as yourself—not do unto others as you would have them do unto you, but love your neighbor as yourself—will suffice as a gloss.”

McKibben goes onto say that if the second greatest commandment is to care for the downtrodden, how is our current Christian culture so centrally focused on ourselves? Sure- there has to be a point where you and your family doesn’t starve…but when does that turn into selfishness? The seemingly unselfish task of providing for your own could be considered as selfishness when provision is too excessive. When does provision become an excuse to overly provide? Christ said to the rich young ruler who approached him, concerned about his eternal life. The ruler says that he has followed all of the commandments of the law and the prophets and Christ then says:

If you want to be perfect, go and sell al you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then, come follow me.

Most think that it is too radical to consider. I don´t think everyone can live a life of utmost poverty so that the ¨least of these¨ are literally served. I understand families with 3 year olds and grandparents can’t go chill with the Bloods, love on the prostitutes and sleep on the streets. Honestly, I don´t know if everyone is even called to serve in that way. But, couldn’t we at lest keep Christ’s example in the back of our minds? And if we err, could we try to err on the side of grace, servitude and good stewardship?

If this is something we are struggling with (which we are) so terribly, it must be something worth working towards. As stated above, we all can’t drop everything and literally sell everything we own…there need to be people that make money to give that money away. I think it comes down not to the actions, but the consciousness (which will, inevitably fuel action). I believe that we are called to live constantly in a state of potential servitude. We should, at every moment be watching the world around us and looking for areas in which we can step in, show the love of Christ and love our neighbors as ourselves.

The lady is making her way back to my table to ask for change again…

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