Monday, January 28, 2013

Think like Jesus - at the grocery store

     Armed with my list, I get my basket, take to the aisles, nab the items I came for, and try not to indulge in too much impulse buying. I don't think much about Jesus, or anything at all except replenishing my refrigerator and pantry, securing dinner, and nosing out a few bargains.

     Jesus wasn't a farmer, so like everybody else he stopped by little markets with his mother and then his friends, studied the produce, made his purchases and took the haul (meager as it may have been) back home. What was on his mind? He spoke directly with the farmer who'd grown the chickpeas. We miss that part - but might think about it. The food is in the cans, but what's canned is God's goodness, the long chain of rain, sunshine, fertile earth, a farmer's gritty determination, pickers (many of whom are the immigrants we debate politically!), factory folk, and shelf stockers. I might pause, think of God and all of them, and marvel with gratitude.

     Jesus had precious few choices. We have too many. How many types of cereal does humanity really need? Why is it Lisa sends me to get something simple like stuffing mix, but then there are a dozen types of mix, and multiple brands of each type? My temperature rises - but I might calm down, and humbly confess to God how spoiled and picky we have all become, and plead for mercy, and some simplicity.

     I might, as I make my way down the long aisles, remember those who have few or no choices, or no food at all. I've had Third World guests before, and they aren't sure whether to laugh, moan or weep when they survey our stores. I can pray for them - and I can also develop simple habits, like if I get a can of beans, I get another can to drop off at church.

     Other grocery store questions loom. Can I be patient with the shopper who thoughtlessly crashes her basket into mine? Can I be kind to the harried checkout person? or grateful to the bagger? Paper or plastic? or those green bags Lisa gently suggests I use? Lord Jesus: I need some help in the grocery store!


  1. So, it seems your definition of praxis is to do the least thing possible. On your trip to the store you preach patients, praying for mercy and simplicity, and kindness while trying to think about Jesus. All of which are good things. My problem is your apparent lack of acting on your beliefs--which is praxis. You claim to bring third world "guests" to the store and witness their shock, after which your only apparent action is to pray for them and to purchase a can of beans for the food pantry. A can of beans. Surrounded by hundreds of pounds of food and people from a society struggling to survive holding more money than they have ever seen on the cards in your wallet and you want us to buy A can of beans.

    You claim to recognize the overwhelming waste going on in this store and pray for mercy but then proceed to participate in the wasteful consumption, directly participating in and propagating the thing you claim to dislike.

    You tell us to act like Jesus when purchasing our food. I wonder if the Jesus I learned about as a kid would stop at praying for mercy and buying a single can of beans. I think he would have been horrified to learn that many of the foods in the produce department end up in the trash. I think he would progress from horrified to angry, angry enough to overturn tables, drive people out of the stores and the churches with a whip, and preach of the greed, selfishness, indifference, and hubris of people claiming to follow him and those who claim to preach his word. Words he spoke on the roads, markets, and temples in Israel as recorded in the book preached in your church.

    A can of beans.

  2. agreed = but I find it's hard to storm my local grocery store every day... so I'm looking for simple ways regular people can be a little more devoted to God, admittedly light years shy of where Jesus was...

  3. I understand you can't raid your grocery store ever weekend but if all you tell people to do is something incredibly simple, people will start to think simple things are enough. Americans are already very comfortable in their lives, telling them comfort is a good thing will only reduce the chance they will step out of their comfort zone and actually help people. I see preachers and other leaders as uniquely able to influence people to do something worthwhile but if those leaders allow people to be lazy and indifferent many people will never do something hard, like truly help.

    A can of beans is easy, if all we do is the easy thing nothing will get done.