Jesus said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave..." Let's think about those words for a while today.
The immediate context of the passage is that of a conflict between the disciples of Jesus as to which one of them would be the greatest when He established His earthly Kingdom and put them upon 12 thrones to rule the world. It would apply to civil leaders in our time as well. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and limited power corrupts as well. There is not one man in a thousand who can be entrusted to use legitimate power without becoming corrupted by it. Jesus describes it well when He said that "the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them." Those in power almost without exception become intoxicated by that power and begin to consider themselves superior to their underlings. It does not take long before those in power come to believe that they are better than everyone else and, since they are superior human beings, they are entitled to extra privileges.
The entire political process in the Socialist Democracy of Amerika is infected, through and through, with this mindset. Those in power use it to suppress and harass their enemies while those who seek that power will do anything necessary to obtain it. Everyone knows and understands that those who win get the right to boss everyone else around until their term is up. Then, whoever wins the next round of voting gets to do the exact same thing to their enemies. The entire process has devolved to putting various power-mad people into positions of authority for various periods of time and encouraging them to beat up on the losers for as long as they can. This truth accounts for the utter despair experienced and proclaimed by those who lose a voting contest. They know that, for a time at least, they are going to be lorded over.
As regular readers are aware, I live in the midst of Yuppies. I made the voluntary decision to buy a home in the midst of Yuppie-ville so I cannot complain about my predicament. Living among Yuppies is a difficult and trying experience. One of the most trying aspects of life with these poor souls is tied to the fact that they are all Type-A Obsessive/Compulsive personalities. Yuppies are driven. Yuppies are always in a hurry. And Yuppies must always be first. Let me tell you a few stories.
There is a two lane left turn near my home that leads to an arterial road that immediately leads to an Interstate highway. Due to the accidents of geography most of the people who use the two lane left turn lanes intend to turn right onto the Interstate highway shortly thereafter. I would estimate that it is about a quarter mile from the two lane left turn to the junction with the on-ramp to the Interstate highway. When it is my intention to use the Interstate highway I use the right lane of the two lane left hand turn lanes. That makes sense since it puts me into the right lane on the arterial, thus allowing me to merge on the on-ramp to the Interstate highway without switching lanes. Guess what the Yuppies I live with do at this two lane left turn? You got it! Yuppies live life in the fast lane. That means they use the left lane of the two lane left turn lanes and then scream forward, turn signal flashing, and force themselves into the right hand lane to merge onto the Interstate highway. I cannot make this left turn without this happening at least once each time I am there.
Today I was heading out on to the road for a Dunkin Donut. I stayed in the right lane as long as I could to avoid being overrun by Yuppies in their Lexi (plural of Lexus). At the last moment, when there was nobody in sight behind me, I moved to the left lane in order to turn into the donut shop. Immediately a Yuppie driver in her SUV was on my tail. I don't know where these folks come from. One minute they are not there and the next minute they are on my tail, clearly indicating they want me to get out of the way. Not wanting to be rear-ended (it has happened to me before) I moved to the right, allowed the lady to scream past me, and missed my turn into the donut shop. Not to worry, I circled around and got my donut.
My wife and I were leaving the local Costco a month or so ago. It was a Saturday and the place was chock-full of Yuppies. Costco, in case you do not know, is a "warehouse" store where items can be purchased in bulk and often at superior prices. Before leaving the store each customer's cart is checked by a Costco employee to ensure nothing is being stolen. Typically there are two lines that form as people are being checked on their way out of the store. This day there were three lines. As we were patiently waiting in line one highly agitated Yuppie male started shouting at the customers trying to leave the store, ordering them to get into the various lines in such a fashion as he could get out more quickly. He clearly had little patience for people like us.
I was driving home from work in the late evening a couple of days ago when a Yuppie in an SUV came up quickly on my left side. I was driving on the right lane of the road as he approached so I stayed put so as to avoid impeding his progress. He was significantly exceeding the speed limit as he aggressively approached the rear bumper of the car ahead of him, also in the left lane. He repeatedly honked his horn but the other Yuppie would not move over. So he quickly changed lanes, moving to the right, and sped forward in the right lane. At this point a stop light on the road ahead turned yellow and the Yuppie accelerated to get through the intersection. Flying through the now red light at a high rate of speed the Yuppie was quickly on the rear end of another Yuppie car, this time in the right lane. He honked his horn aggressively as I watched the cars disappear over the hill and as I stopped for the red light. If this were an isolated occurrence I would not mention it. Unfortunately, this happens all the time where I live.
I could go on and on with tales of fights for a place in line at the store, of races to the most prestigious tables in restaurants, of outrageous driving habits that indicate the Yuppie is the true center of the universe and of the general "me-first" attitude that dominates the people where I live. Unlike my Yuppie compatriots, one of my goals in life is to stay out of the way of other people. I will purposefully inconvenience myself to avoid getting in the way of the hot and bothered. I will pull over or off the road multiple times each day to allow a hard-charging Yuppie to pass. Being first in this life means very little to me.
As I witness the incredible level of selfishness evident in the lives of the people I am surrounded by, (I sound very self righteous, don't I?) I often find myself recalling the Bible verse I quoted at the start of today's post. That verse gives me a powerful motivation to be last in this life. I don't want the admiration of the public. I don't want to even think about what others might think about me. I don't want the biggest house or the fastest car. I don't want to be at the head of the pack. I don't want people to step aside to let me through. I don't want to lord it over anyone. I am pleased to do my best to stay out of the way for all of you who are clearly much more important than I am.
I will tell you what I do want however. I want to be first in the Kingdom of Heaven. That sounds awfully arrogant and selfish too, doesn't it? It is not that I expect to be first in the Kingdom of Heaven. That is a ridiculous belief not based upon any empirical evidence or spiritual facts. But what I do want to see when I get to Heaven is those who spent all of their lives trying to be first among us being told that their time for prominence is over. Psalm 23 says, in part, that God will prepare a table for His children in the "presence of their enemies." He will do that to exalt them over the people who have lorded it over them during this life. Who will you be, assuming you are a Christian and will get to Heaven? (Non-Christians are doomed to the Lake of Fire and have no hope.) Will you be one who Jesus invites to come forward or will you be one who Jesus instructs to move to the back of the room? I am trying to live my life today in last place, hoping that the day will come when I will be invited forward.