[PC-USA] 2003-01-31 - First = Last

God's Paradoxes, Part 2

Matthew 20:16 So the last shall be first, and the first last. (NASB)

In our world – especially America, we have a “pecking order.” Usually, the rich are accorded more respect than the poor. Skilled athletes who lead their teams to victories are adored, while police officers – who daily risk their lives for us (for little pay and difficult hours) – are treated with disdain. Glamorous Supermodels are ogled, while faithful mothers and wives are taken for granted.

Magazines teach us how to “look out for Number One,” meaning ourselves. We are constantly encouraged to seek to be “first.” Even some churches treat certain people – especially the rich – with deference. Someone who donates a lot of money can wield more influence over decisions, than "ordinary Joes." These are the world’s values. But the church – both local and the church which consists of ALL believers in the world – should be different.

Mark 10:35-44 (NASB) Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. "Teacher," they said, "we want you to do for us whatever we ask." "What do you want me to do for you?" he asked. They replied, "Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory."

”You don't know what you are asking," Jesus said. "Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?" "We can," they answered. Jesus said to them, "You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared."

When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.

In God’s Kingdom, the first (the one who will become great) must be last (the servant). In the world’s power-hungry kingdom, mistreating those under us is too often lauded. In fact, a recent popular American television show featured a host who regularly berated the guests. This was supposed to be amusing. I doubt our Heavenly Father found it to be very funny.

In the world’s Kingdom, people who look or think differently – the mentally challenged etc. – are treated like Second-Class citizens. But as the late Henri Nouwen was faithful to remind us, to our Heavenly Father, they are First-class to our Lord, and they have some of the most pure, Christlike spirits. Those of us who are "normal" or highly intelligent, rich or beautiful - could learn much from those who are often “last” in the normal scheme of things.

I challenge you (and myself) today, to ask God to help you align your values with His, and to see the “first and the last” through His eyes.

Jan

[email jan] cfdevpray@juno.com
http://www.cfdevotionals.org