Not About You

Selfishness is not an option

When I was in my later teens, I was really into this Christian singer named Rebecca St. James. On her first major album, she has this song called “You Then Me”. The premise of the song is based on this part in the Bible where Jesus tells this story about a guy who owns a vineyard and he hires some people to work for him for a set price. Some people start earlier than others and then he calls everyone back at the end of the day to give them their pay, with the ones who got there the latest being brought back first. They are all paid the exact same amount, regardless of how long they had worked.

Of course, those who had worked the longest are kinda pissed cuz they worked longer, so they felt that they should get paid more. Even though they had agreed to work for that set amount. In conclusion, Jesus says,

So the last will be first, and the first last.

It seems like a strange leap. The point of the story seems to be that, no matter how long you work, you will get paid what you deserve or what you have agreed to. That the boss has the final say in how much each worker is paid. It would seem to indicate that the employer has the upper hand.

But the entire story, when you read it in context, talks very little about the owner of the vineyard. He is a bit player in the drama. The focus is on the attitude of the workers. The ones who had been there longer had done more work and felt they deserved more money than those who got hired on later in the day. Not only that, but when the workers are called in at the end of the workday, it is those who got hired late who are brought in first. They not only started late, but they got to go home early.

So the last will be first, and the first last.

Back to the Rebecca St. James song.

This one particular song has stuck with me. Especially the chorus.

Here’s the way it oughtta be
You then me then you then me
Well, I pray one day we’ll all agree
And take it you then me then you then me

I have spent the last few weeks talking about compassion and empathy because I want you to understand one very important fact.

The past two years have not been about you.

You know who you are. You know whether or not that blog post is about you. Because you can feel it in your bones. Or in the pit of your stomach. It makes you uncomfortable to have these conversations or to hear someone saying things like this.

When people took to the streets demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, it was not about you. Or when they marched, shouting that black lives matter, that was not about you either.

When businesses and schools closed or required that we wear a mask, it was not about you.

When the president said he was requiring federal employees to get a vaccine, guess what: also not about you.

When Jesus was crucified, that was not about you either.

The entire point of all of this was for “them”. From Jesus to BLM, it is not for those who hold the places of privilege. No one is demanding the rights of those who hold the power because they already have the rights and the power.

Vaccines and masks are not demanded to protect those who are healthy, but those who are at risk.

Black lives matter because for far too long, they have not mattered.

Jesus did not come, in his own words, “to call the righteous, but sinners.”

It

Is

Not

About

You.

And this is the hardest and most important takeaway from everything that I have been saying this entire time.

Because until we all come to grips with those five words, we are never going to get out of this mess we have found ourselves in.

It is not about you.