One of the toughest things about being a pastor is the second part of this old saying: we are called to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” “Afflicting the comfortable” is just another way of phrasing the need for a prophetic voice in all congregations. Prophets speak the uncomfortable truths.
When I was in seminary in Dallas at SMU, I lived in the neighborhood close by. There was a Middle School for my daughters across the street from the apartment I found. The seminary was only a three block walk for me. This seemed like a good arrangement. I later found out that the neighborhood, formally called Highland Park, was informally called “The Bubble.” It was quite a wealthy neighborhood. My daughters were very embarrassed to be living in an apartment. They walked an extra two blocks to come home through the back alley so their friends wouldn’t see where they were going. It was a nice apartment but it wasn’t a mansion. Their friends were surprised they had to do chores and asked them why the maid didn’t do the chores for them. Persons of color, by an unspoken agreement of the town, did not buy property or rent in Highland Park. The only students at the Middle School who were persons of color lived in campus housing and their parents were attending the seminary.
It was easy to see snobbishness in Highland Park, but not so easy to see it here. However, it is human nature for us to form social groups among people with whom we are comfortable. It is not, however, Christian to be exclusive, whether it is a rich person excluding a poor one, or a country person excluding a city person. Lexington can be a “Bubble” too. Jesus always calls us to reach outside of our comfort zone to people who are different and uncomfortable for us. Hebrews 13:2 tells us kindness to strangers may be “entertaining angels unawares.” Being a Christian means being willing now and then to be uncomfortable for the sake of showing kindness to somebody really different from ourselves.
Thank you for taking time to read this.
The Lexington Ministerial Alliance is coordinating these Minister’s Messages. Any pastor in the Alliance may submit an article. Please email your article to Rev. Linda
O’Neal, the Alliance secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org