Read 1 Corinthians 13
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” (Matthew 19:30, NRSV).
Have you ever played the game Super Mario Brothers, or any of the subsequent Super Mario Brothers games? I sat down with my daughters tonight for a little R&R, along with some Super Mario gaming. We were playing New Super Mario Brothers on the Wii, and as soon as the game started any chance of “R&R” when right out of the window.
If you have never played the game, let me explain what it is like playing it with three people. If you remember the original Super Mario Brothers on the NES system, you could only play that with two people and only one player could play at a time. My brother-in-law aptly said that Super Mario Brothers came from a time when people were accustomed to “taking turns”.
In the New Super Mario Brothers game, taking turns no longer exists! Three people all fighting for the same prizes, trying to jump at the same time, and warring with each other to get to be the first to reach the flag adds a new stress-inducing dynamic to the already stressful game. As, we went further and further…rather, as we repeated the same round over and over again, the more the laughs turned to frustration. The girls started yelling at each other, I could feel my heart rate rising and, before I knew it, I was calling it quits for their benefit and for my sanity.
As I let the blood pressure drop and the heart rate slowed down, I began to think about how much stress we put ourselves through by trying to be the first, the best, the one who has the most stuff, and other types of things. In a society that promotes “healthy competition”, we find ourselves more and more succumbing to the hazards that come along with such competition. People are stressed out, burned out and on the verge of snapping all because they are seeking to be the best.
In a world that urges its inhabitants to fight for their “right” to be number one, in a world that teaches us that only the strong survive, in a world that teaches us to accept the “dog-eat-dog” mentality, Jesus calls us to see things in a whole new light. Rather than the first being the winner, Jesus insists that the last are the ones who are truly first. Instead of survival of the fittest, Jesus insists that the fittest are the ones who realize how unfit they are.
Keeping this in mind, Paul also addressed the people within the church of Corinth. To paraphrase, Paul told them that its not about how much you have, or how loud you talk or any other sort of thing. It comes down to if you have LOVE or not. Without love, and the ability to love (which comes to us from God), we are only shadows of what we were meant to be. We are noisy gongs and clanging cymbals without love, nothing more.
Instead of competing with each other over who is the best, the quickest, the cutest, or whatever other things we compete over, Christ is calling us to LOVE. Rather than filling the void in our lives with the stress that this world offers us, Christ is calling us to have peace through LOVE. You may be thinking that this sounds nice, but what does that mean? That means that if you live as Christ lived, and love as Christ loved, you are bound to be filled with the love and peace of God…you are bound to be filled with, and to fill others with God’s hope, healing and wholeness.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
What’s love got to do with it? EVERYTHING.
Lord, teach me to lay down my desire to be first and to pick up the desire to be love in the lives of those who cross my path. Amen.