Tag Archives: status

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)

Next to the Basin and the Towel

Story of the Day for Monday February 13, 2012

Next to the Basin and the Towel

                    It is not glory to seek out one’s own glory. 

                                              Proverbs 25:27

One early morning in July, 1852, two steamships pulled away from the docks in Albany and headed down the Hudson River to New York City. Because the captain was sick, Thomas Collyer took charge of the Henry Clay.  The Armenia, captained by Isaac Smith, raced past the Henry Clay at the first scheduled stop.

Collyer was furious when he saw the Armenia jump ahead, and so he rushed his ship back in the channel and beefed up the two boilers to 350 pounds per square inch.  The boat boilers made the boat shudder and passengers pleaded with the crew to stop the race, but their pleas were ignored.

At the next docking, the Henry Clay closed the gap.  Soon she nosed up next to the Armenia.  As the Henry Clay slowly inched ahead, the pilot of the Henry Clay rammed his competitor and splintered her bow. The passengers of the Henry Clay were then ordered to one side of the ship so that the boat would rise up to ram above the Armenia’s starboard guard.  The Armenia’s captain cut the engines to keep from running aground.

The Henry Clay now showered her deck with red-hot embers as she raced ahead.  Just past Yonkers, and nearing New York, a stoker, engulfed in flames, staggered up to the deck and dove overboard.  The middle section of the ship was now in flames.

The pilot swung the boat violently toward the east bank – running her 25 feet up the embankment.  The impact toppled a smokestack, and hurled some onto the safety of the shore.  Some were pitched into the waters, while others – trapped by the flames – were forced to jump overboard.  Within twenty minutes the boat had burned down to water level.

Throughout the afternoon and into the night they dredged the river for bodies.  Eighty people perished.

 

The purpose of the steamships was to provide safe travel for the passengers traveling from Albany to New York.  But objectives are easily forgotten when we are overcome by the desire to outdo someone else.  We blow out our boilers to maintain our status.

 

Jesus doesn’t object to competition – it’s just that we’re competing for the wrong thing.  The pride of seeking our own glory is an empty quest.  Our Lord humbly kneeled to serve us; to save us.

He wants us to know the “highest” place we can be is on the floor next to the basin and the towel.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)


Magnets on the Fridge Door

Story of the Day for Wednesday February 1, 2012

Magnets on the Fridge Door

                        And in his teaching Jesus said, “Watch out for the Bible scholars who like to walk around in long robes and be greeted in the marketplace and have the special seat in the synagogue and the place of honor at feasts.” 

                                           Mark 12:38-39

In the 1950s, the vocation of pastor ranked 3rd in status in the U.S.   Fifty years later, pastors ranked 187th in status.  The vocation of pastor is not nearly as dignified or respected as it once was.

All this is refreshing news for pastors.  The word “minister” in the Bible does not mean a “clergyman,” but a “servant” – the one who is beneath others in order to serve.  Just as Jesus assumed the role of a lowly servant, and demonstrated it as he knelt to wash his disciple’s feet, so he calls those in the church to forsake status in order to serve people.

It is a little more complex than I’m making it out to be, because we are to show a kind of respect to leaders in the church.  But Jesus is stern in his warnings that we must not use religion as a means of gaining status.

 

The Bible scholars of Jesus day loved the status they enjoyed.  They wore long stoles and robes to indicate their high rank in society.  When they walked down the street on market day, the people would stand in honor as they passed by.

But, a concern for status invariably involves a comparison – a competition – to be higher in respect than others.  That’s what makes it ugly.  Status is rooted in pride.

 

The focus on status is destructive in the church.  It destroys relationship.  Intuitively, we know that relationships are of higher value than status.

You prove it by your refrigerator door.  The photos of people on your fridge: are they of the most famous and influential people in the world?  Or are they photos of family and friends?  How about the artwork?  Do you have artwork of the great masters, or drawings by your kids or grandkids?

 

Jesus turns the status charts upside down.  He says that, if anyone wants to be first, let him be last and the “minister” (or, the servant) of all.

In the family of God, it’s not about being “higher” than others.  It’s about having your drawing or photo slapped with a magnet to the fridge door.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)