Tag Archives: acceptance

Jesus’ View of Status

Story of the Day for Wednesday May 2, 2012

Jesus’ View on Status

                   Jesus told them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me. And whoever welcomes me welcomes the One who sent me. For the least one among you is the greatest.”
Matthew 25:40

The murmurs of anticipation began to increase in this year’s NFL draft as the Baltimore Colts were on the clock to make their pick. They surprised everyone by picking a quarterback.

I’m not talking about the Colt’s number one pick of quarterback Andrew Luck; the place was buzzing over the last pick in the draft: Chandler Harnish from Northern Illinois. By being selected dead last in the draft, Chandler captured the dubious honor of being named “Mr. Irrelevant.”

For the last twenty years, the final pick in the draft has been announced by Paul Salata, a white-haired man in his mid-eighties. He invented the Mr. Irrelevant award thirty-seven years ago — not to honor the first, but the last player picked in the NFL draft.

Chandler Harnish will hold news conferences and be showered with gifts. One bank will give him one day’s interest on a million dollars so he can feel like a millionaire for a day. He’ll get a jersey from every team in the NFL just in case he, um, gets traded to another team.

Harnish will be flown to Newport Beach, California, where they’ll throw beach parties, parades, and regattas in his honor. Then Disneyland. He will drag the infield during an Anaheim Angel’s baseball game (they won’t let him throw out the first pitch because that would make him relevant). After a banquet held in his honor he will receive his award. Instead of the Heisman, he’ll get the Lowsman trophy — a statue of a football player with a clueless stare as he’s fumbling the football.

Some think the hoopla surrounding the Mr. Irrelevant award is stupid. Even more consider it insensitive. But I think Paul Salata’s brainchild is genius. He reminds us of a teaching of Jesus that we easily forget.

In society, we honor and award the highest achievers, and why not?

But love can’t be won by achievement. Ask a mother if she loves her newborn baby less because it hasn’t yet won a spelling bee or hit the winning home run in little league. God doesn’t love us because we’re better than others; God loves us because we’re there.

Jesus gravitated toward society’s losers. He takes all our rankings according to status and tips them upside down. When it comes to learning acceptance and love, it may take us a while to wallow through the confusion and realize the least are the greatest.

Paul Salata knows what it’s like to be overshadowed by greatness. He played for the 49ers and the Colts, but didn’t amount to much. Salata went on to become an actor. He appeared in movies such as “Singin’ in the Rain” and “The Ten Commandments,” but his roles were so unimportant he’s not even listed in the credits.

The public may see Mr. Irrelevant Week as a lot of overblown silliness. Yet, Salata has used donations for the event to quietly give over a million dollars to those who are “irrelevant”: Goodwill, Marines at Camp Pendleton, and disabled athletes needing artificial limbs.

Whenever anyone reminds me about Jesus’ view on status, I find it intensely relevant.

                                                  (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Eat the Fat Ones First

Story of the Day for Thursday July 28, 2011

 

Eat the Fat Ones First

                        Accept each other just as Christ accepted you.  

                                                                          Romans 15:7

 A fitness club in San Francisco ran a billboard ad. An alien’s bug-eyed face loomed in the foreground – with another alien silhouetted behind it. The ad said,

 

WHEN THEY COME THEY’LL EAT THE FAT ONES FIRST.

 

A member of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance found the ad hilarious – until the more sober members of the association informed her she should be offended.

 

We live in a culture that has lost the ability to enjoy our differences. The State University of New York at Albany decided to hold a picnic to honor the first black major league baseball player, Jackie Robinson. But some students objected – insisting the word, “picnic,” was racist. A “picnic,” they claimed, originated when black men were lynched for entertainment.

An English professor proved that the word “picnic” originated in the late 1600s from the French word, piquenique. The term designated a social gathering in which everyone contributed to the meal. Over time, it meant any outdoor meal.

Yet, despite the convincing explanation, some were still offended.

So, in deference to those who considered a picnic insulting, the gathering was promoted as simply an “outing.”

Oh boy. Now others protested that the university could not have an “outing” to honor Jackie Robinson, because that would be insensitive term to the gay community.

In the end, the university capitulated to those offended, and advertised the event, but refused to use any noun to describe the outdoor lunch they planned to honor Jackie Robinson.

 

Is it possible to celebrate and enjoy our distinctive differences as people without hurting and offending others by pointing out those differences?

I don’t know.

But I do know that status-conscious societies, like ours, have latched onto people’s differences to cruelly mock and stereotype people. Whenever we treat any race or class of people as lazy, deceptive – or any undesirable trait – humor becomes ridicule.

 

The traits we admire or sneer at change with the years. A generation ago, plumpness was admired (because only wealthy people could afford to indulge in rich foods) and a deep tan was disdained (because only poor laborers had to work outside). Women used to want to dye their hair blond, because it suggested both youth and beauty. Now, with the advent of “blond jokes,” it increasingly brands you as a ditz.

 

Mocking those who are different from us is a cheap way to attempt to bolster our own sense of worth. God wants us to learn to accept each other – just as Christ has accepted us.

The sooner we learn to accept others for who they are, the sooner we will be able to laugh and enjoy our differences. And I hope we learn to do this quickly, so I don’t have to save my best jokes for the nursing home.

                                                                       (Copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

“Quasimodo Complex”

Story of the Day for Monday May 30, 2011

 

“Quasimodo Complex”

 

                  “. . . Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”  

             Then Jesus called a little child, stood him in their midst and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  

                                                                             Matthew 18:1-3

 

Have you noticed how children aren’t all that concerned about differences in other children?  They don’t care what race you are, your social or economic status, or whether you have physical imperfections.

Sadly, those years of acceptance don’t last. As we grow older, our attitude toward differences in others turns ugly.  It is not that we now notice differences in others – a three-year-old notices different skin colors, or a limp.  No, we change by assigning value to those differences.  We accept those who are like us, and mock and shun those who are different.

You know the pain that comes from being different, don’t you?

 

So, why do little children blithely ignore differences in race, wealth, or appearance, while those older use differences as a weapon?

Well, think about it: little children feel loved just because they are there.  They have no notion that you earn acceptance. Once you believe you must make yourself worthy of being loved, it means you must grub around for other people to be superior to.

It doesn’t take much imagination to see where this leads.  If you are poor, or a racial minority, or have physical blemishes, you are going to get hurt.

 

Have you heard of the “Quasimodo Complex”?   In the British Journal of Plastic Surgery, two physicians made a disturbing discovery.  They found that 20.2 percent of the adult population had facial deformities (protruding ears, bent noses, acne scars – that sort of thing).  Then they examined 11,000 prison inmates who were doing time for serious crimes.   They found that 60 percent of these criminals had these minor facial deformities!

What do you make of this?  It’s obvious, isn’t it, that the cruelty and rejection necessary to find others “inferior” is profoundly destructive to them.

 

When Jesus’ disciples got into arguments over who was greater (as they often did), Jesus loved to grab the closest little kid to plop in front of his disciples. Jesus used them as visual aids to show his disciples that you don’t need to be superior to anyone else.  God’s care for you cannot be earned.  We must learn to be like a little child, and simply accept God’s love without the slightest notion we are worthy of it.

 

Do you find yourself preoccupied with complaining about other people and their faults?  I’m not saying there aren’t times to criticize, but if you find that it is coupled with a feeling of superiority to them, take it as a warning sign that you probably still feel a need to earn your sense of worth.  Don’t fall into this trap.  You can’t raise yourself up by putting others down.

There’s a better way.  Go to a playground and watch the little kids. Ask yourself what those little beaners had to accomplish before their parents would love them. When you find the answer, you will know how your heavenly Father loves you.

                                        (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)