Recently, Slate skewered the favored mantra of people who claim business success for themselves and therefore want you to know their secrets: “Do what you love. Love what you do.”
In “In the Name of Love,” Miya Tokumitsu notes how well this works for those chosen few who are not working an assembly line in Kokomo. As for those factory workers, the question of loving what they do looms large.
Not everyone gets a corner office. Sometimes, the destination is the basement mail room.
Nothing makes me ponder the vicissitudes of life more than that person who is one day an active presence in a church and then is gone.
In my own Christian experience, the following example people eventually fall through the cracks of our church programming:
The family with the unruly special needs child, the kid that hoots and hollers sometimes during a quiet Sunday meeting. That harried mom and dad who got one too many stares one Sunday and then weren’t there the next to receive more.
The guys who didn’t grab the brass ring. Often, they seem to be general workmen, “handymen” as it were. They did the odd job, but didn’t do it often enough. One week they are in church, and the next they are gone.
The divorced, diabetic, unemployed mother with the teenage daughter that can’t seem to stop having illegitimate kids. The whole melange lives in a trailer on the outskirts of town, and they come to church now and then, until they get one too many looks or lectures.
The healthy guy who one day stops being so healthy due to the predations of a chronic illness. He used to sit in that back pew near the windows. One Sunday, he was there, and now he’s not.
The cute single gal who gets the dark thoughts that descend on her at random, when her pretty face becomes a mask, and no one knows just what to say. Whatever happened to her? You remember her, don’t you?
I wish I knew what happened to these people and why it may be their presence no longer darkens the nave.
I also wonder if the following is more true of them than of the people they leave behind:
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…
—2 Timothy 3:12 ESV
We don’t think of the fallen-through-the-cracks people as desiring to live a godly life in Christ Jesus, do we?
But don’t they? In fact, could it be they may have wanted that more than the folks with whom they may have once shared a pew?
Do we think of them as persecuted?
And did we become the persecutors?
There’s a success idol in the Church today. We have our own forms of “do what you love and love what you do.” We find spiritual ways to take our own successes and to project them onto others and ask why that person or persons is not duplicating our achievements. How is it they are still in the basement and not in the corner office? Must be sin in their life. They must be hiding something. Or they’re lazy. Maybe they don’t read their Bible enough.
A group of men had an encounter with a fallen-through-the-cracks person:
As he passed by, [Jesus] saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
—John 9:1-5 ESV
That the works of God might be displayed in the lives of the fallen-through-the-cracks people.
We must work the works of the One who sent us.
Night is coming.
But the Light is still here. For now. Among us. In us.
Sadly, some of us are the ones doing the pushing that results in the fall through the cracks for someone else, someone who desperately didn’t want to fall. We must stop making the problem worse.
Instead, our task is to grab onto falling people and set them on their feet again.
3 thoughts on “Fallen-through-the-Cracks People and the Church”
Tokumitsu has a PhD in Art History. I guess the kids in graduate school are now finding out that DWYL is a crock.
Hey, we were supposed to be this DWYL high tech country, now that all the manufacturing jobs went to China. But even the high tech people are now getting the shaft now, because their jobs are getting loaded on boats and shipped to India and elsewhere. What’s next? seasoned engineers with years of experience getting non-paying intern jobs?
Dan, we are all fallen-through-the-cracks People now.
I know some table bussers who are wondering when DWYL/LWYD is going to start working for them.
Then again, the guy who last pumped out my septic tank seemed to be happy and to enjoy his job, so you never know.
Still, I remember Bill McKibben saying that if the Chinese think they can enjoy the West’s standard of living, they’re deceived. Imagine a world where everyone in China and India drives a car. Talk about carbon footprint!
Everyone must start somewhere. Some of us worked some miserable jobs. Today’s kids can’t seem to work the same work as we did at their age. Get someone from Mexico to do it instead. Yikes.
The problem is that people are ending at the beginning. They’re back doing the kind of thing they did when they were 16, but they’ve got a master’s degree now and a bad back, and they’re wondering how it happened.
I am old enough to remember when all people in all countries lived rather hand to mouth. It has only been since post WII that the USA has begun to live at the level of Maslow’s top of the Pyramid he called Self Actualism. The tag line about “Do what you love and Love what you do can only make sense in a society where a lot of people are in that top level.
Our nation has a very large segment that is unable to live in that rarified air and most are not miserable or jealous of the ones who have made it out of the blue collar jobs. I certainly agree with Dan about making sure all people, regardless of education and wealth are respected, loved and included in the Family of God.