LOTS of anger these days being hurled towards a group being labelled as "The 1%". The elite. The wealthy. The decision makers. The power brokers. The law makers. The economy creators and propagators. They are being characterized as a lost, misguided, selfish group who deserve to be despised, reviled and stopped at all costs.
It sure does seem like something the majority of people should be able to rally around... like 99% of the people right? This blog post is not specifically about the Occupy Movement. It's simply the newest manifestation of a very old and ugly sentiment. People who are perceived to be "Have not's" like to hurl stones at the perceived "Have's." It's the reason why stats CONTINUE to say people in the vast expanse of Canada hate Toronto. It's the reason why people in small church love to tear down big churches. It's why citizens seem to revel in tearing down their political leaders.
It's the easy way.
It lacks character & integrity... and it's wrong.
It's an interesting percentage breakdown actually. If the 99% really believe that the 1% are lost, oppressive scumbags... check out how JESUS says we should treat those 1%.
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.
Matthew 18: 10-14
That's the numbers given by the incarnation of love on earth... not mine. He says that if that 1% are lost... LEAVE THE 99 AND GO GET THEM! He doesn't say, go tear them down! He says that he loves them so much that we should leave the crowds to aggressively show them love! They are not nameless, faceless numbers. They are regular people who God would BE HAPPIER to see reached than care be made for the 99 already "awoken".
Want another example of how Jesus treated the 1% in his time?
"Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew's house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus' followers. "What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?Jesus, overhearing, shot back, "Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: 'I'm after mercy, not religion.' I'm here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders."
Matthew 9 10-13
And don't you go all "Rich young Ruler" on me. Because Jesus gave that guy a chance and a challenge and WANTED him to play his role. Jesus acknowledged it was tough... but since when does that mean that we back away from "tough"???? In fact that sounds like a mission! Ghettos are tough but we laud praise on those who go into the depths with a message of love, grace, forgiveness and stay there to fight for people's freedom. But but but... how could Jesus feel that way about the 1%? He DID and DOES. He eats with them and makes a special point to show his affection in fact, even at the expense of the crowd.
I help lead a church in the downtown of the city. Often people think that we FOCUS our outreach on the poor. Not true. We care for the poor because we're supposed to and I think we do a pretty good job of it. We ALSO create outreach strategies for the suburbs... because there are PEOPLE there! Lot's! We are going to be creating series of business seminars and we're a part of BIA's and are actively looking to spend MUCH time and effort to create context to engage (through personal relationship) with the 1%, so that they too can thrive in their surroundings AND in their faith.
In fact... my heart is found in the suburbs and the boardrooms. I blogged a while back about "Impacting the Suburban Ghetto" I encourage you to read it and even get mad at me because of it if you want. But there are some destructive cycles in our culture (part of what the Occupy message actually is ironically) and real people have found themselves trapped in them... and these people MATTER to God. How we treat them and speak about them matters to God. AND the engagement of this sector of the city EXPONENTIALLY releases strategic resource to care for the poor too. Example:
Today after a month camped in a Toronto Park, people focusing their time being bitter at the 1% will leave a nearly million dollar mess in park. In one moment of generosity, a 1%er could say, "I'll fix the park because I care." Will they? I hope so. I know people who do exactly this kind of thing anonymously. Imagine that... someone showing love to another who spent a month reviling them. I will tell you that these days in my city, we're seeing businessmen and people of influence beginning to really think about the difference they can make by going above and beyond in city-investment. It happens through care, relationship, and the extension of the same love and grace (Unmerited favor) that every one of God's "Little ones" needs to be shown.
I know most people don't think much about "conversion" ... but as someone who does espouse a belief system and works/studies lots about the best ways to do it make it influence society... I will tell you that calling people scum from afar doesn't work. The Church tried it. It makes it worse. We're feeling much better now.
But but but but... But nothin'
"Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God's Law and Prophets and this is what you get."
Want to know the truth though? Most of the 1% that I've met personally... want to help. They just need to be given a context to do it that works, communicated in a language they understand. We were never designed to let people come to us... our mission is to GO and speak the language of others to communicate the same message cross-culturally. WE need to be willing to be uncomfortable for others freedom. Let's get on that instead of calling another creation of God dirt. That's NOT how Jesus would treat them.
Or and one more thing... looking globally... you likely ARE one of the wealthiest 1% on our planet. Are you committed to personal generosity? Are you leading the way by example? I certainly hope so because Jesus also said:
"Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.
Matthew 7: 1-5
There are no have and have nots. Just people.