Friday, February 10, 2012

Service or Servitude

I've recently been going over my materials from one of my classes at seminary. It was "A womanist hermeneutic."
The class has become the focus of much reflection of late. What is the impact of locating one's life within the reality that race, class, and gender are cultural areas in which a dominant culture oppresses and subjugates the 'other'? The womanist theologian looks for ways to read, interpret and apply the scriptures in such a way that true egalitarianism can emerge. Not sameness. But, to allow each person created by God to find and define their own identity and place within the Reign of God in this world. One thing that stuck out was the issue of being a servant. Jesus stated that he had come to serve, not to be served. What does this say to us who look to Jesus as Lord and Master? I guess and even more primary question would be why was it necessary for Jesus to demonstrate service? In a narcissistic world, one where each person has a subjective need for power and recognition, what better way would there be than for the Creator to show us how? Service need not be weakness. Jesus revealed that true service flows from a position of strength. By exhibiting humility Jesus showed us how to put others' needs above our own. In fact, through his example true service was revealed to be something that can only be willingly offered to those who require the service. The disciples at the last supper 'required' their feet washed. Jesus willingly offered the service, then told them to do likewise.
Service demanded creates servitude. This is wrong and should be called the sin that it is. It oppresses and demeans others. True service lifts the other by demonstrating God's care for each person. I wish that I could say that we have all learned lesson well. But, in this world there are still those who control the power; political, economic, etc., who demand the uncompromising obedience and servitude of others. We who have achieved great comfort and security need to see whose backs have the imprint of ours and others' boot heels. Just a thought.

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