Connecting with Culture
It’s been said that culture is ‘what we make of the world’, but what does that look like as Christians? How can we begin conversations about what’s goin...
In the space of just a few weeks, I’ve witnessed two shoplifting dramas in my local Co-op.
One time, a guy strolled in, less-than-subtly tucked an £11 bottle of red into his cardigan, then strolled out. The other was even more brazen. Three young women began filling bags with steak and fish, then proceeded to shout at the two staff members who had the audacity to ask them to stop.
I’m only in this shop for about 17 of the 6,300 minutes it’s open each week. If I’ve seen two incidents in a few weeks… I’ll let you do the maths. And what’s more, this is in a nice town-cum-village in Cambridgeshire; not exactly an inner-city hotspot. Shoplifting is clearly a big issue!
Impressed by the bravery and calmness of the staff members I’ve witnessed, I wondered what it’s like for them. I let my wondering get the better of me, and interviewed Jim, the store manager.
As we chatted on swivel chairs in the office out the back, a word Jim used a lot was ‘powerless’.
‘The Co-op’s policy means we will not touch and we will not stand in the way of a shoplifter. You can call the police, but on the police’s list of priorities, we’re right at the bottom. There’s no deterrent, basically.’
This policy keeps staff safe, but the incessant theft and abuse is not without effect. ‘You’re completely powerless, you feel helpless… It can make you feel quite low at work.’
While it’s unlikely you, one of our dear readers, need to heed Paul’s call to ‘steal no longer’ (Ephesians 4:28), what might it look like for us to ‘be imitators of God… and live a life of love’ in our local shops (Ephesians 5:1–2)?
On the whole, the people who work in shops want to do a good job and often face challenges we might not be aware of. Jim says the one thing we can all do is be kind. Maybe that sounds bland – lame even. But for someone who’s been on their feet all day, frustrated and hurt by constant theft and abuse, a smiling face and a happy conversation are like warm sunbeams on a chilly day.
And maybe, in addition, God’s calling you to do something creative and just through your work whether that’s in policing, politics, social work, journalism, or simply as a member of your local community. Ask him!
Let’s not wring our hands. Let’s put them together in prayer and act.