“Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”
— Mark 9:35b (NRSV)
I recall a story of a maimed soldier, injured in Afghanistan, so determined to put his life back on track, this amputee was back at work in three months. He had also become a cross-channel swimmer for charity, earning thousands; the beneficiary for others in the infamy of his own misfortune.
This genuine hero exemplified the biblical model of greatness.
The biblical model of greatness—those “first” because they’re “last of all and servant of all”—is made true in the News media every day. The entire world thrives on stories of genuine heroism. It does so because such love is alluring; it’s what we hope the whole world could be like, not least of which ourselves.
Competing with Competition? Let Them Have Their Petty Victories
We step into our worlds and there are so many competitive jousts, reminiscent of the disciples’ argument over who was best. We see it in our workplaces, in the community, in our families.
Disappointing as it is, so often we fall for the competitive strains of envy, comparison, fighting for our rights, and defending our honour. We see it as a necessary evil.
Yet, at these times we hardly see God’s protecting our turf through his Sovereign will—what we lose was never ours to begin with. It was, and is always, God’s.
So, when people climb all over our dominions, taking what plunder they can, let us welcome them. Let us quietly cheer them on in their victories, for they have what they want—a mirage of happiness. And we have what we want—God’s real Presence in our material loss.
A Supreme Victory
When we lose we win. Set out to deliberately defraud ourselves for others’ good, and we find God’s Spirit recoiling with love through us, like a feisty cobra of Spiritual anointing; never better with good intent.
The supreme victory is approached when we jettison our baggage—the want of “toys,” glamour, ease, and prestige—and take everything, and only, that which we can keep.
The only thing we actually have in this life is the Spiritual blessing of life—yes, our living, breathing body, if not for air and a living spirit within, would be a corpse. We were born naked and alone (barring God) and in that state we’ll depart (Job 1:21).
Nothing of this world should hold us fixed in any sense of victory.
Still, we will struggle because we’re so vested in this world. But we can reverse the concepts of greatness anytime.
We embrace a true spirituality most by rejecting the trappings of materialism. The more we can let go, the more we gain; the more control we insist on having, the less life and true happiness we will experience. True greatness is in experiencing the spiritual Presence of God.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.