The Good Word for Sunday January 10th ~ for the complete readings click here.
“If you ain’t first, you’re last.” – Ricky Bobby
Engrained in our culture is the idea that we all must strive to be first. If we aren’t working towards becoming #1, then we are doing our “best.” College football coach Henry Russell Sanders is famous for saying, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing!”
Like most of you, I deny buying into this worldview, but a simple review of my driving habits would demonstrate how easily I default to seeking to be #1. Maybe you’re different than me, but I bet, if you took a couple minutes, you could find some aspect of your life where you can’t help but desire to be better than everyone else.
John the Baptist speaks in stark contrast to our culture’s push for first place. Think about it. In our gospel this weekend we hear, “The people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ.”
People thought John was the Messiah. John could have assumed the role of anointed one, savior. He could have used people’s loyalty to serve himself. But he didn’t.
John chose second place. John witnessed to the fact that no matter how important, no matter how many good things he did, he wasn’t the best. John put Jesus first.
Sometimes we even complete to be best at being good. We make church a competitive sport. If you’ve ever felt like you weren’t good enough or thought someone else wasn’t good enough to come to God, then you’ve experienced pious competitiveness.
If we want to follow Jesus more perfectly, then we need to take a page from John the Baptist and choose second place. Jesus first; everything else second.
Give up your pew this week. Whether you normally sit in the front or in the back (or normally don’t come at all), make a conscious choice to sit somewhere different, so that someone else can take your normal spot.