Summary: This series focuses on how we as Christians adopt a mentality towards others that hinders the Holy Spirit from using us freely to minister to others.
An Elitist Mentality Part 1
Scripture: Mark 9:33-40; Gal. 2:11-14
The title of my message this morning is “An Elitist Mentality.”
One of my co-workers, after discovering that I love to play golf, asked me if I was a “member” of any golf clubs. The person who asked me just assumed that I was because of my ability to afford it based on the type of job that I have and my position within the company. I told the person that I was not a member of any clubs and that I could not in good conscious pay to be part of a group that excluded others for any reason. The person did not understand what I was telling her.
We are a society that values the elite and vilify the poor. We judge people based on their position in life and how large their bank accounts are. If you doubt me just ask someone what their qualifications are for a future spouse and you will discover at some random point in the conversation, money will eventually come out. Within our society there are two primary groups, those who have and those who have not. Within each of these groups they are further divided into more groups. For example, in the “those who have” group, you have those who have some and those who have more. From the “those who have more” you find it’s further divided into those who have more and those who have the most. Even when you get to the group who have the most some must classify themselves as “old money” or “new money” meaning that those who have always had money were better than those who just recently came into their money. The same goes in the opposite direction for the “do not have” group. This mentality of dividing people into groups based on the world’s standard of success is also found within Christians. So what is an elitist and what is an elitist personality.
By definition an elitist is “a person or class of persons considered superior by others or by themselves, as in intellect, talent, power, wealth, or position in society.” Notice that it’s not just someone being considered superior by others; it includes someone who considers themselves superior. This is the mentality that I want to focus on in this message and let me say up front that there are many people of great wealth who does not have an elitist mentality just as there are poor people who do have this mentality. Based on the elitist’s “supposedly” superiority they are treated differently than the average or non-elite person. In order to have the class of the elite, someone else must be excluded from the group as everyone can’t be elite by definition. Someone must be seen as less in order for someone else to be seen as great. We are taught this basis principle at a very young age. For example, in elementary school we learned to play a game called “Musical Chairs.” The setup of this game required fewer chair(s) than the number of people needing them. This ensures that at least one person (sometime more) would be left without a chair. The very design of the game is to cause competition for a chair with some winning and some losing. Whoever did not have a seat at the end of the music playing was removed from the game. Their removal told them they missed out or were not “good” enough. Now you might think I am stretching it a bit here, so let me give you another example from our childhood. You remember team sports that you played in gym class? Remember how certain kids were always chosen to be the captain of the teams? What happened? Each kid began to choose their friends or those who were known to have skills in that particular game. At some point it came down to the last person who had not been chosen. The very last person, that person that no one wanted or voluntarily chose was now being placed on a team that did not “really” want them. This was the child that would often be left on the sidelines or placed in a role where their contribution was minimal. How do you think it impacted that child’s sense of self always being chosen last? Also consider how this affected the mentality of that child who was always selected first. How many people do you know still talk about their glory days in high school as if they have not accomplished anything else since graduating? The idea that one is better than someone else is taught to us and is a foundation pillar of our society. It is what we know and what we are accustomed to. This is one of the reasons why many African Americans cannot envision themselves being a part of the Republican Party – it’s the party of the “haves” who do not care about those who “have not.” When Ben Carson ran for president there were blacks who were outraged that he would even be a part of that party and believe and say some of the things that he did. While we do not like those who are considered elite among us, we do not mind carrying that title when it reflects us. Do you see the problem here?