On Class Diversity: Faith Expressing Itself Through Love (Gal. 5:6b)

In 2015, the Pew Research Center revealed that “after more than four decades of serving as the nation’s economic majority, the American middle class, reflecting the long-term demographic trends of growing racial and ethnic diversity and rise in educational attainment in the US, is now matched in number by those in the economic tiers above and below it.” Our nation continues to evolve.

And as a nationwide network of pastors, we care deeply about integrating a theology of faith, work, and economics (FWE) to the diverse working classes that our nation rests upon to thrive. In this blog, we asked the city director of our Spanish-speaking Los Angeles network to share with us about the diverse perspectives he encounters in his network:

The Hispanic church has been blessed in its great diversity of social classes and these bring different behaviors in the kingdom of God. Here is a parable based on two real stories in our network:

There was a pastor who used to go to a restaurant and every time the owner saw him come in, she offered him the most delicious dishes saying, “Good afternoon, pastor. It is a great blessing that you have come to visit me.” The pastor conversed with her, talked about her family, and how she was doing in her business. After eating more than three dishes, he would tell the owner: “God is going to bless you a lot in your business.” Then he proceeded to tell her that if she could not go to church, God knew why she couldn’t. And as always, he went without paying because the owner did not charge anything since he was the pastor.

On the other hand, there was another pastor who used to go to another restaurant and every time he arrived, the owner would come to meet him, saying, “Good afternoon, pastor. And how is the church?” The pastor would pause and tell him that pastoring was very difficult. Then he would give him a summary of what he had preached the previous Sunday (because lately the owner had not come to any Sunday services). Then the owner would bring him something to eat, and with the Bible in hand, both would have a ten-minute Bible study. After lunch, the owner would say, “Pastor, you should not pay absolutely anything because you are my shepherd.” Then the pastor would reply, “I will pay you because I have eaten your food, I have taken away a good time of your work, and you have allowed me to share this study with you.” And he would leave the full payment for the meal plus the tip. And he would leave.

In both stories, the glue that brings together both notions of productivity and human relationships is work.

Both owners opened their restaurants to achieve a life of fruitful work and to flourish economically in their neighborhoods. But the owners held different views of FWE theology: The first owner exercised her faith through works, thinking that by not charging her pastor, God would bless her work. The second owner had a Bible study in his business that increased his faith. Neither theology was wrong – they were just different, but both owners knew how to love their pastors.

However, let’s take a look at the pastors in this parable because they viewed differently the correlation between the economic value of a business and the spiritual value of a human being. It is the second pastor who understood the difficult work of an entrepreneur, whose schedule is subject to his work, and whose vocation is his priority.

For this reason, the Hispanic church has been blessed because it exercises faith that works through love. Yet we still need to give more value to the work in the marketplace.

As pastors, we cannot separate the spiritual from the economic or the economic from the spiritual for fear that we for fear that we fall into the trap of the sacred-secular divide. May we ensure that we are attentive to integrating the economic value of a business alongside the spiritual value of a human being.

Questions:

  1. In Paul’s farewell address at Miletus and before the great weeping of all his disciples, the apostle told them to consider the words of the Lord Jesus himself who said it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Which of the two owners do you think exercised their faith better?
  2. We know that when we give something we should not expect to receive something in return. If that is the case, is it correct to receive something at the expense of a loss or a personal expense? In what cases would this apply?

Want to learn more about blue-collar work? Check out these additional resources:


Sobre la diversidad de clase: La fe que obra por el amor (Gálatas 5:6b)

La iglesia hispana ha sido bendecida en su gran diversidad de clases sociales y éstas traen diferentes comportamientos en el reino de Dios. Quisiera comenzar este artículo contándoles dos historias reales.

Había un pastor que solía ir a un restaurante y cada vez que la dueña lo veía entrar, le ofrecía los platillos más deliciosos de comida diciéndole: “Buenas tardes, pastor. Es una gran bendición que haya venido a visitarme.” El pastor conversaba con ella, charlaban sobre su familia, y de cómo le iba en su negocio. Luego de comer más de tres platos, le decía a la dueña: “Dios va a bendecirle mucho en su negocio.” Luego procedía a decirle que, si no podía ir a la iglesia, Dios conocía sus razones. Y como siempre, se iba sin pagar pues la dueña no le cobraba nada por ser el pastor.

Por otro lado, había otro pastor que solía ir a otro restaurante y cada vez que llegaba, el dueño salía a recibirlo diciéndole: “Buenas tardes, pastor. ¿Y cómo está la iglesia?” El pastor hacía una pausa y le contaba que el pastorado era muy difícil. Luego le daba un resumen de lo que había predicado el domingo anterior (porque el dueño no había llegado a los servicios dominicales últimamente). Entonces el dueño, le traía algo para comer y con Biblia en mano ambos tenían un estudio bíblico de diez minutos. Luego de almorzar, el dueño le decía: “Pastor, usted no debe pagar absolutamente nada porque usted es mi pastor.” Entonces el pastor replicaba: “Yo sí te voy a pagar porque he consumido tu comida, te he quitado un buen tiempo de tu trabajo, y me has permitido compartir este estudio contigo.” Y le dejaba el pago completo de la comida más la propina. Y se iba.

En ambas historias, los dos pastores necesitan conocer la diferencia que existe entre el valor económico de una empresa y el valor espiritual de una persona humana. Está claro que no podemos separar lo espiritual de lo económico ni lo económico de lo espiritual. En ambas historias, el vínculo o enlace que junta ambas nociones de productividad y relaciones humanas es el trabajo. Ambos dueños abrieron sus restaurantes para lograr una vida de trabajo fructífero y florecer económicamente en sus vecindarios. La dueña pensaba que al no cobrar a su pastor, Dios la iba a bendecir muchísimo. El dueño tenía un pastor que entendía la difícil labor de un empresario cuyo horario está supeditado a su trabajo y cuya vocación es su prioridad. La dueña ejerció su fe con obras y el dueño recibió un estudio bíblico en su propio negocio que aumentó su fe. Por lo tanto, ambos dueños supieron amar a sus pastores. Por esta razón, la iglesia hispana ha sido bendecida porque ejercita la fe que obra por el amor aunque todavía nos falta darle más valor a nuestro trabajo en el mercado.

Preguntas:

  1. En el discurso de despedida de Pablo en Mileto y antes del gran llanto de todos sus discípulos, el apóstol les dijo que consideraran las palabras del Señor Jesús que más bienaventurado es dar que recibir (Hechos 20:35), ¿cuál de los dos dueños ejercitó mejor su fe?
  2. Sabemos que cuando damos algo no debemos esperar recibir algo a cambio. Entonces, ¿es correcto recibir algo a costa de un pérdida o costo personal? ¿En qué casos se aplica?

 

Related Resources

Fernando Tamara is the Director and Research Assistant of The Jesse Miranda Center for Hispanic Leadership. An Assemblies of God ordained minister, he planted a church, The Way Christian Center. He has been serving as pastor of the Hispanic Ministry of Orange County First Assembly of God since 2012. He also currently serves as the City Director for Made to Flourish’s Los Angeles Spanish network. His research and teaching interests focus on the interaction of culture, religion, society, and leadership. Among the issues he explores are theological developments in the Hispanic culture, civic spirituality in the Latino communities, and spiritual movements in religion.