Revolting Against Classism
All fallen societies and religions have a tendency to rank people according to class. All have ways of separating the insiders from the outsiders, the holy from the unholy and the more important people from the less important people. Jesus revolted against classism by the way he lived, a way defined by the Kingdom.
Now, neither Jesus nor any New Testament author provided us with instructions on how to fix the destructive classism of society as a whole in a political way. There have been many theologians who have tried to enlist Jesus and the New Testament in support of Marxism or Socialism, but they are as misguided as those who try to enlist the Bible in support of Capitalism or Libertarianism. The Kingdom is not of this world, and it’s vital we honor this fact by keeping the Kingdom holy.
Rather than trying to fix the world by tweaking Caesar’s program, Jesus revolted against classism by establishing a counter-cultural tribe who manifests the beauty of a people who are free of class as they relate to each other the way God relates to them. As in all matters, the way this tribe is to transform society as a whole is by providing it with a beautiful alternative that exposes the ugliness of class while revolting against the principalities and powers that inspire it.
This beautiful alternative was embodied in the way that Jesus treated those enslaved to classism in first-century Jewish culture. For instance, disabled people were seen as being cursed by God and were often treated as misfits and outcasts. Lepers were viewed as unclean an untouchable. Condemned criminals and impoverished people were generally looked down upon as scumbags. Certain kinds of sinners were deemed an untouchable class. And women were, on the whole, considered second-class citizens and were generally viewed as property owned by men.
Jesus revolted against classism by touching lepers, healing the sick, treating beggars as equals, treating women with respect, identifying with the poor, and befriending those judged as the worst of sinners.
Jesus revolted against every social judgment that separated people into classes and revolted against the powers that fuel it.
The revolution of Jesus calls the church to manifest the truth that the typical way that people are judged by a class system has been completely abolished. The Kingdom of God has a center—Jesus Christ—and he demonstrated that there are no walls composed of class distinctions that should divide us. This is a beautiful alternative.
Whether people are “normal” by social standards, upper class or lower class, intelligent or cognitively-challenged, educated or uneducated, attractive or unattractive, decent or indecent, able-bodied or disabled, male or female, talented or untalented, famous or unknown, young or old—our primary job is to manifest the truth that each and every one of us has unsurpassable worth, just as Jesus did. And we manifest this truth by how we welcome and embrace people, just as they are.