Friday, May 6, 2011

Jesus and Jerry Springer

My father spent a large portion of his life working in the television industry. No, he was not a news reporter or a talk show host, that is what everyone asks. He worked more on the technical side of the news, starting out as a camera operator, then becoming the manager of the technicians who worked together to produce live television. 
When people would find out what he did, they often liked to make snide comments about “the media.” They would talk about how the media was responsible for polluting society with it’s wickedness, or discuss the mind-numbing nature of daytime television programs like Jerry Springer. One might infer from what they said that they were thinking “how any good person contribute in any way to such filth?” 
In Matthew 9, Jesus approaches a man whose profession was considered much more sinister than working for the media. He was a tax collector. At the time, tax collectors were seen as sell-outs to their faith, families, and ethnic group. Even though Matthew was Jewish, he was employed by the Roman government, who had forcefully conquered the Jews. Tax collectors were known for skimming off of the top for profit.
Amazingly, Matthew responded positively to Jesus’ call and became the writer of one of the books that has been continually changing the world for the past two millennia. Jesus, on the other hand, suffered ridicule from the religious for even associating with these types of people. My father would respond by telling people that he did not choose what was on television. He would explain that he thought there were also positive sides to the media, such as keeping people informed and connected with the world. 
I think Jesus’ encounter with vocational discrimination can help us discover our own biases. For example, do you think an oil executive could be a good christian who is doing all he/she can to serve God? How about a personal injury lawyer, an NPR Disc Jockey, or an environmental lobbyist? Who would you tell Jesus was a waste of his time?

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