Sunday, November 12, 2006
Let me start off by saying that I am a competitive person. I hate to lose. The other day I was playing basketball in Waco as I often do on Fridays. This particular week was not a good one for me on the court. My shot wasn't falling, and worse my teams kept losing. But I, being the competitive person that I am, did not leave until I won a game. It took over two hours, but finally a team I played on won a game. It's a sick thing, this addiction to winning. Often my mood on Saturdays is determined by the outcome of the OU football game. Our society has placed winning on a pedestal. For instance, look at our national basketball team. They have finished third in the world the past two years at the Olympics, and then this year at the World Championships. Yet we blast them for not winning. As a nation we take great pride in never losing a war (although in the War of 1812 the White House was burned down). This air of competition has swept in the church in America as well. I remember growing up comparing our church to other churches around the area. I found myself comparing our youth groups to other's youth groups (even though most of the time I had never even visited the other churches). We have become competitive in our numbers, as we have allowed them to determine success. (To refute my own argument, I believe in the church and the life-changing message that the church brings through the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, so I want as many people there to experience that life change). Church, however, is not about competition. Look at the story of the rich man and Lazarus. What was the rich man's problem? It seems to me that the Rich Man thought he was better than Lazarus. Basically he was a winner, and Lazarus, a loser. The rich man was too good to even give Lazarus crumbs. Even in death the rich man thought he was better than Lazarus! Notice he asks Lazarus to serve him by dipping his finger in water to cool the rich man's tongue. Then he asks Lazarus to go tell his family! How arrogant is this guy? How arrogant are we? The rich man thought he had things figured out. He was a winner, he had success. But he neglected his fellow man, and considered the needy man outside his house a loser. And where did his competition land him? In the same Gospel of Luke, Jesus is shown as getting baptized in a line with everybody else, rich and poor. Jesus did not regard others as winners and losers. Lord, help us to do the same.