How Rent is making me more like Christ

rentOn Friday night, just a few weeks ago, I was sitting on my bed, all cozy in my pajamas, trying to get a little relaxation time in before braving the wintery weather for outreach. I popped in the DVD for Rent and settled in to enjoy one of my favorite shows in one of my favorite genres (I will always have a soft spot for musical theater after being in show choir in high school). As the familiar songs played, I smiled, laughed, and cried, all while singing along, of course. Then, one scene that I hadn’t taken particular notice of before came on and quite literally made my jaw drop.

The conversation that struck me was between one of the main characters, Mark, who is shooting a New York documentary, and a homeless woman being harassed by the cops. The homeless woman responds to Mark’s attempt to catch the moment on film (edited for language):

“Who do you think you are? I don’t need no dang help from some bleeding heart cameraman. My life’s not for you to make a name for yourself on… [He’s] just trying to kill his guilt. It’s not that kind of movie, honey… this place is full of artists. Hey artist—you got a dollar? Didn’t think so.”

This touches on so many things that I’ve been learning here at Emmaus, but the point that struck me the most was how the woman who was homeless exposed Mark’s selfish desires in shooting the footage of her ordeal. It is so important when working in a ministry setting, especially with those who are considered “the least of these,” to check motivations. Am I doing this so that I can look like a saint, or because Christ has called me to care for people as he has cared for me?

One thing that I think Emmaus does really well is using art to help convey the stories of the men through the Stories from the Streets presentation. That is what initially sparked my passion for Emmaus, because the people presenting it (Andi and Al Tauber) had actual relationships with those they were presenting about. They loved those men deeply, and I could tell; that made me want to be a part of what they were doing.

So, as you go about your daily life, try considering what your actions (job, home life, volunteering, etc.) are doing to benefit others. Philippians 2:3-4 calls us to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than [our]selves. Each of [us] should look not only to [our] own interests, but also to the interests of others” (NIV).

Since that fateful night of musical bliss, I’m checking my motivations more carefully, and I invite you to do the same.

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