I recently read an article about the retirement of the pastor of the First Chinese Church of Christ, Rev. Kekapa Lee, that made me chuckle as it described how his parishioners sometimes scold him for grabbing a broom or mop around the church.

While some think ministers shouldn’t double as custodians, Rev. Lee understands that every person, ordained or not, is called to serve others, not as a slave or inferior, but rather because serving others is the surest way to get a glimpse of God at work in this world.

And yet, becoming a servant of God will almost invariably cause one to be at odds with the status quo, what the Biblical writers refer to as “the world.” Indeed, the Gospel is a direct threat to the values of the world and to the economic and political structures which embody those values.

Hawaii State Capitol building.

Proposals to raise the minimum wage are advancing this session at the Hawaii Capitol.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The status quo, this world as we know it, is ruled mostly by ego and power, by people who too often remain blind to the perspective of the servant.

It was the motivating cause for the recent government shutdown. And it’s the fuel that seeks to keep wages low and work hours long.

A Christian Way Of Life

From the servant’s point of view, Christians are charged with changing the aim of the world. Rather than aiming to make as much as we can, Christians are called to aim first at providing all people with a decent life. Instead of an economic system that depends on exploiting the many for the benefit of the few, Christians are called to aim for an economy that serves all people: not just the few, but everyone.

Sadly, we live in a culture too often focused on feathering our own nests in this life, while doing just enough to hopefully pass through the pearly gates when that time comes.

“In this legislative session, will we be able to see with servant eyes?”

Becoming fully human means that treating all people humanely, and creating social and economic structures to achieve that goal, is the essential purpose of our lives.

Here in Hawaii, we cannot do that without seeing the struggles of the working poor, the houseless, the addicted and the mentally ill. Here in Hawaii, in this legislative session, will we be able to see with servant eyes?

Will we take steps to lift workers from poverty with better public policies, with a living wage, with services that respond to the Gospel call to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, tend the sick, help those in prison?

It’s time to move beyond words. It’s time to act.

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