We seem to be hard-wired wanting to win or at least never wanting to lose. In sports, it’s obvious, even a tie sends fans home disgusted. In business, it seems a necessity just to keep the doors open, but think of the thousands of laws on the books attempting to keep avarice in check. Competition is rampant in schools if you’re not in kindergarten. Consider the recent U. S. admissions scandal. At least 33 people were charged with bribing admission boards in an attempt to get their less than deserving children into top-tiered schools. All of these are the results of our survival-of-the-fittest depraved natures. It’s the way our planet has run ever since we kicked God out of the garden of our lives.
Everyone’s Doing It
Though we see this around the globe, we shouldn’t see it in Christians, but we do. There is not a clearer teaching in the Bible than we should love one another, putting others first, sacrificing ourselves for them, and dying if needed. It’s found in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Moses and the prophets taught it. David and Solomon taught it. All of the Disciples taught it, and they were quoting Jesus who taught it without ambiguity:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+12&version=NKJV
Jesus never said it was easy to put others first, but he insisted on it. And because we needed help understanding who our neighbor is, he gave us a story to help: the Good Samaritan.
A man was on the road to Jerusalem and overtaken by robbers. They beat him senseless, took all he had, and left him to die in the ditch. Later, several religious leaders passed by and crossed the road to the other side to avoid the suffering man. Then a man from Samaria passed by, and seeing the injured man, he bandaged him and gave him a ride to the inn on his donkey. But that was not all. He paid in advance for the man’s doctor, room, and meals. He loved the neighbor he’d never known.
The story is ironic in that the religious leaders should have been more loving than the Samaritan since Samaritans were considered godless and inferior in every respect. Does this story have any modern-day analogs? Who might the Pharisees and the Samaritans be in 2020? Think about it. Who is claiming the moral ground in the media? Who is claiming to be God’s representatives and are they the same ones helping travelers in the ditch?
I Never Knew You
Jesus told this story making it clear it’s not our profession but our character that counts.
21 “Not everyone who calls me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only those who do what my Father in heaven wants them to do. 22 When the Judgment Day comes, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord! In your name we spoke God’s message, by your name we drove out many demons and performed many miracles!’ 23 Then I will say to them, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you wicked people!’ https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+7&version=GNT
The Parable of the Two Sons
And then much later and just before he rode into Jerusalem, Jesus told this parable to the religious hypocrites.
“Now, what do you think? There was once a man who had two sons. He went to the older one and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 ‘I don’t want to,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. 30 Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. ‘Yes, sir,’ he answered, but he did not go. 31 Which one of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The older one,” they answered.
So Jesus said to them, “I tell you: the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the Kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John the Baptist came to you showing you the right path to take, and you would not believe him; but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. Even when you saw this, you did not later change your minds and believe him. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+21&version=GNT
In Winning We Lose
Could it be we are repeating history where the “righteous” are only righteous in word and not in deeds? I won’t lump all Christians together, but those with the loudest voices could be suspect, and those that are reaching out to the government to enact or legislate their dogmas are using the enemy’s strategies of force and coercion. They are using the survival-of-the-fittest principles of the world to “win”, but in winning, they lose.
Jesus never involved himself with politics. He said his kingdom was not of this world, and when offered an earthly kingship, he declined. He could have ruled the world like a president, king, or emperor, but he knew that wouldn’t work. Only by changing people’s hearts can true change come, only by changing people’s motives and core beliefs can change truly occur. Could the popular religious world have it wrong? Could we be more interested in winning at any cost, using the government, using fear as a tactic, than winning God’s way? Our side wins–is not winning, when we don’t do it with kindness, patience, love, persuasion, and respect.
Let’s win God’s way.