“Jesus Calls us to Give Up Our Seat,” I totally snagged those words from a guy on twitter, but they’re good ones and they really sum up much of what’s wrong with our culture today. So in the spirit of Rosa Parks, here’s how “privilege” is supposed to go down, at least in faith.
Jesus calls us to give up our seat, to the least of these, to those who are hurting, to those who carry burdens we don’t. It is just like riding on a bus, we surrender our seat to the elderly, to people who are disabled, to pregnant women, to moms with babies, to people who look like they’ve been on their feet all day.
Jesus calls us to give up our seat and our job is to actually seek out people who need our seat, to watch for them. The whole point of having the “privilege” of a seat in the first place is to be able to give it away. You don’t get a medal for simply having a seat of your own. There are no treasures in heaven called, “I got mine and to heck with you.”
Jesus calls us to give up our seat and in faith these days I see so, so many people who seem to not understand that. Our “seat” is actually our pride, our status, our need for control, our need for attention, our position, our envy, our navel gazing. We give up our seat because we’re called to love one another, but there’s a reward for us, too. Pride is a heavy burden to bear and when we are focused on our own selves too much, all our energy gets fed to fear, to lack, to scarcity, and to the offense around trying to protect and defend our seat.
Our seat is seldom about money, although that can sometimes play a role. It’s usually about other stuff however, status, a need for control, popularity, tribal allegiances, our own sense of self-worth.
Sometimes the sweetest people, the gentlest people, are actually heavily invested in protecting and defending their seat, and you see this sometimes with moms. They are overwhelmed with jobs, responsibilities, chores, but if you offer to help, you’ve just encroached on their territory. You become a threat to their seat.
In fact, women are notorious for having seat issues. One might even say it’s a part of our design. I mean, creating a safe nest for kids, is only about two toes from, I need to control everyone and everything in my whole, entire, environment and protect not only my seat, but all the other seats around me….
Men however, often have huge seat issues too. I just mention women, because sometimes our seat issues can be really repressed, passive aggressive, but they still serve the same purpose. They write our name across on an entire pew that no one else dare touch.
Jesus calls us to give up our seat, and sadly we have some people in faith who aren’t preaching that at all, they’re preaching about how to protect and preserve your “privilege.” I’m not going to name anybody, but I just read this kind of verbal yoga pose of scriptural nonsense that made me pull two muscles while trying to hang upside and see the world from their view.
Like dude, Jesus calls us to give up our seat. You just can’t try to rationalize that truth away. It is everywhere in the bible.
Our cultural issues around social justice, poverty, racism, sexism, are really nothing more than a scarcity mentality, nothing more than people feeling cast outside of “privilege,” people who can’t seem to get a seat on the bus. I get that, I’ve walked there, and there are a lot of reasons for that mindset, some quite real and physical, many totally unjust, and some having to do with spiritual wounding that has now been internalized.
The one cause of that mindset that I don’t want to see, the one I shouldn’t be seeing, is coming from Christians heavily invested in their own seat, off on this wild tangent where they seem to believe the kingdom is scarce and limited, and if they give up even an inch of their own status, someone unworthy is going to come along and get their seat.
So much for Philippians 2:3-4, Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
This unwillingness to give up our seat comes from both ends of the spectrum. Today in the modern world there is status, power in victimization, in claiming the territory we call “persecution” or “oppression.” I put that in quotes because here in the West, we sometimes have a very skewed perception of what it really means to be “persecuted.” That status that stems from victimization, from feelings of persecution, seems to be heady stuff, very seductive, because we’re actually busy fighting over who gets to hold it.
Jesus calls us to give up our seat. “Our seat” is a foolish thing, a worldly thing, a thing that really serves no tangible purpose. We should let it go because our real seat is right next to Him, seated in victory at the right hand of the Father. If only people would look up, look at the abundance of the kingdom we inherit, and walk in our genuine, authentic privilege, not in way that tries to protect and preserve our territory, but in a way that invites others in.