This post is written on Luke 14:1, 7-14.
I like to watch those real life cop shows and game warden shows, and not too long ago I saw one where a father was arrested on drug charges for pumping his 13 year old son full of steroids, because his son wanted to compete in the Olympics. He wanted his son to be #1. Not too long ago Alex Rodriguez retired, in his desire to be remembered as one of the best baseball players of all time, he used steroids, and now all he will be remembered for is his cheating. As a nation, even as a world, we have a problem. We have a problem because we will do whatever it takes to be #1. And, as Christians, we have a problem when it comes to living in this world, because in God's way of things, the last shall be 1st, and the humble will be exalted.
Dale Earnhardt once said, "2nd place is just the 1st loser." Vince Lombardi said, "Winning isn't everything, It's the only thing." We believe this even though our mothers have told us that "it's not if you win or lose, It's how you play the game." Our self esteem, our identity are all tied up in that struggle to be #1, when we win, we feel good about ourselves. When we lose, we don't. The people that Jesus watched fighting for those places of honor didn't do so because those seats were more cushy and comfortable, they did so because they would receive a higher level of respect and honor from those sitting around them.
Jesus never calls us to be #1, but at the same time, He does not call us to be losers. Jesus calls us to faithful, and humble in service. With the world yelling at us to be #1, and Jesus whispering in our ear to be faithful, humble servants, we're finding ourselves struggling to obey that call. But, Humble, faithful service comes from the Cross of Jesus Christ. Through the cross, we know that we are loved. Through the cross, we know that we have been forgiven. Through the cross, we know that we have a relationship with God, and that we will never be separated from Him. Jesus took away our need to be #1 through the cross. We don't have to be great to please God, We don't have to be #1 to be saved.
The scene at the end of this story reminds us that the cross of Jesus Christ is good news for all of us. Most of us would never make #1, we would be stuck in mediocrity, or even failure, accounting for nothing. But, because of Christ dieing on the cross, we will all be given a place of honor, all of us will get gold medals, no matter what abilities, achievements, or limitations we may have. We are winners, because we are loved, and forgiven by God.
By knowing who we are, we can strive for excellence, and forget about being perfect. Knowing that we are loved, and forgiven, we can now concentrate on humble, faithful service that will touch lives and transform the world we live in. We must be the change in the world we want to see..... Amen