Following Jesus Is A Race to The Bottom
When he was teaching his disciples about the importance of letting go of their misguided notions of success and power, Jesus espoused a counterintuitive path to enlightenment that didn't seem to make a whole lot of sense. He told them:
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 26 It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”Jesus told his disciples that the way to greatness in God's kingdom was a race to the bottom. It was a path marked by servanthood and surrender. He outlined a way that was full of self-sacrifice and self-emptying. To become more... you must become less. To be great you must become nothing.
Take a moment and think about what that might mean in your own life. What would you have to give up in order to become less? Does it begin to make you uncomfortable? It does me.
Jesus taught over and over again how the kingdom of God was a counterintuitive proposition for most people. It ran afoul of all that the kingdoms of this world posited as right and proper, good and useful.
For example, the economy of God's kingdom was based on the kind of generosity that bordered on the ridiculous. It was the kind of generosity that would make someone leave 99 sheep to go search for one lost lamb.
In God's kingdom, the dregs of society were welcomed to the wedding feast--the poor, the lame, the broken, the sinner, tax collectors, prostitutes, drunks and outcasts. These were the people who found a place at the table.
C.S. Lewis wrote about the counterintuitive nature of the new community, the Church the Body of Christ--when the followers of Jesus are living into their best selves, and truly seeking the kingdom of God over their own needs and wants. He wrote that in the Body of Christ:
Obedience is the road to freedom, humility the road to pleasure, unity the road to personality.The interesting thing is that the Church has largely forgotten this, and far too many people who claim to follow Jesus have largely abandoned the counterintuitive nature of the Gospel. They've opted instead for a race to the top, and don't seem to care all that much about those who are at the bottom.
If you and I are going to be agents of change in our world, we need to begin by being agents of change within the Church. Some of us have begun to figure this out. We've started seeing how we can no longer be communities that exist for our own sake, but rather that we exist for the sake of the world.
You can be a part of this. You can begin to race toward the bottom by letting go of the wrongheaded ideas of power and success that have permeated our culture. You can become more by becoming less. You can live open-handed. You can be the people God longs for you to be.
May this be so for you today and every day. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be withy you now and always. Amen.