Saturday, December 12, 2009

It's All About ME

I wrote a short time ago about the increasing sense of entitlement we see around us. From cars demanding the right-of-way, to people cutting in front of you at the checkout line. And of course that is all magnified during the Christmas shopping season! More than once I've come home from a couple of hours in the shops, muttering, "I hate people, I hate people..."
From our early school teachers to all the media today, the emphasis is on the individual. On one hand, we are encouraged to save the environment, leave a smaller carbon footprint, think about what legacy we are leaving for future generations. We are told to give a goat to a child in Africa and spend time in a soup kitchen downtown. All of these are great, noble, and necessary. But on the other hand, everything is screaming at us to put ourselves first. "You are worth it". "Do it for YOU".
We are told we don't have enough self-esteem if we let others go first. We are told we are weak if we help someone at work to succeed ahead of us. All of these conflicting messages leave us frustrated and annoyed. Then we begin to think that yes, maybe we should put ourselves forward more. Maybe we are being taken advantage of. Maybe we are weak and have low self-esteem. Maybe it is time we put ourselves first.
Jesus was a controversial figure when He walked this earth. He was strong, outspoken and absolutely knew His goals and His worth. But He put others first, he defied common thinking about those who were 'lesser', and He spoke words of support into the lives of His disciples, encouraging and helping them be the best they could be.
Some, to their detriment, saw Him as weak and naive. Some, including His disciples, told Him not to think of Himself as a sacrifice. No doubt some thought that if He only exerted His influence a little more, He could be a star.
So we are left with a choice. Do we act as the world commonly thinks we should? Do we put ourselves first, trampling them as we fulfill our sense of entitlement? Or do we prefer each other, taking the last seat at the table, extending our love and our hands to lift others up?
I think the question, "What Would Jesus Do" in this case is redundant. We know exactly what He would do. "Love your neighbour as yourself."We have our instructions, the hard part is doing it.

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