Summary: Living for Christ means living opposite of what the world says.
Series: It’s Backwards
To Be First Be Last
How much of our life do we spending waiting? The doctor’s office, the store, the stoplight – there are hundreds of places we have to wait each day. There is probably a guy out there who has studied the amount of time the average person spends waiting and it probably is something like half of your life. King’s Island is not the place to go if you do not like waiting – most of your time in an amusement park is spent waiting in line. A few years ago the park began a “gold pass” program where on certain days of the week if you had a season pass which was at the “Gold” level, you had a special shorter line which allowed you to by-pass the normally long line for that ride. Sounds great until you realize that half the population of Cincinnati has a Gold pass and shows up on those days. Then you get to wait in the special line. Why don’t they sell the extra special “Go First on any ride on any day pass? Those would probably all sell out and then right back to the end of the line we go.
Stand in the room of kindergarten kids and say, “Ok everyone line up,” and you will see them all seek to be the first one in line – even without knowing exactly where they are going. That kind of captures the human attitude in life - Everyone wants to be in front of the line because it means you are able to go first and most of the time being at the front is the best spot to be even if we have no idea where the line is going. No one wants to be left behind or to be at the end only to find out there isn’t any left.
Jesus in his life didn’t care much for the race to the front or the corporate climb to the top spot, he would teach of the importance of individual sacrifice – sometimes to the point where you would voluntarily go to the back of the line of important people. His directions were opposite of the world – reversed of the common wisdom and backwards in the manuals of how to get ahead. And he was serious because he even would say that he came from heaven to be the lowliest servant of all.
This way of living doesn’t play big in the status driven world. Most are spending their time….
I. Striving for the Top.
A. From the moment we are born there is a desire to be first.
1. We know a healthy baby cries almost immediately from birth and continues to use that method to express a need or a pain. This is essential for the child’s survival because he is unable to effectively communicate or provide for himself. A baby is not concerned with anyone’s sleep habits or food availability; he wants what he wants when he wants it.
2. That desire doesn’t leave even as the child grows – infants are also naturally selfish and have to be taught sacrifice and self-control. If that isn’t learned as a child then a person can develop as a selfish adult as the attitude becomes solidified. It is almost natural to be selfish.
* Some become very skilled at putting themselves first without being concerned for what happens to those around them.
It is really bad when you have to work with people who have made it to adulthood but still have that infant mentality where they think they should be more important than anyone else. Leona Helmsley was a notoriously mean woman who prospered in real estate and was convicted of tax evasion. She was so ambitious to make sure she gained great wealth but often refused to pay contractors if she didn’t like their work. During her court case her housekeeper saying she overheard Mrs. Helmsley talking with someone about her tax liability when she said, "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes." She thought she was too important to bother with income tax. James 3:16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
3. And it seems to be a general expectation that people should be selfish because if you don’t you will be taken advantage of or miss out on something. And that happens doesn’t it? The people who actually try to think of others just get drained and the selfish never give back.
*It is interesting too from that perspective to look at how the disciples struggled to find an place of importance with Jesus. It reminds me of a story I heard: A doctor, an architect, and a lawyer were arguing over who had the oldest profession. The doctor said, "Well the first operation was performed on Adam, so the medical profession is the oldest."