Sunday, March 20, 2011

BIBLE PICK 'EMS - Who's The Best?

Everyone loves a winner.

And we live in a competitive world, don’t we?

What is it about human nature that makes us want to finish on top, to beat out the next guy, to endlessly compare ourselves to others?

Unfortunately, winning can be a relative term.

Especially when the issue of popularity is thrown in there.

When I was in high school (ages and ages ago…), I decided to try out for the flag team. Back in my day, the flag team was a little group of girls who twirled flags (basically batons with flags attached) – as they marched in parades and performed at football games.

So, I practiced and practiced. I got pretty good at it.

Finally the day came for tryouts. Yikes! I was really nervous. We tried out in groups of four. My best friend was right next to me. I only made one minor mistake, but my friend performed flawlessly.

There was one girl in our group who flubbed several moves – she even dropped her flag two or three times (BIG no-no).

I remember feeling pretty good afterwards. I thought I had a chance – but for sure, my girlfriend was gonna get in – she did great.

A few days later, we went to see who had made the team. I remember feeling sorry for the girl in our group who performed so poorly.

We looked at the names…the girl who had messed up, and dropped her flag, made the team. I should have known…

She was popular.

Sometimes we can get caught up in the same sort of competition within the Body of Christ. Sometimes we can get preoccupied with who’s the "better" Christian. Sometimes we compare ourselves, and jockey around for position – assigning value to our serving, and rating our sins.

It’s not very attractive – but it’s all so human.

Today’s "Bible Pick ‘Ems" shows us that this is not a new phenomenon. A long time ago, a motley crew of twelve men did the same thing:

"About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, 'Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?'" (Matthew 18:1)

I can almost hear the disciples kibitzing –

"I found the boy with the fish and loaves."

"Yeah, but I went up to the mountaintop with Him."

"I went, too, you know."

"Boys, boys – I walked on water."

Someone mutters in the background – "Yeah, for like two minutes."

Jesus must have rolled his eyes in frustration.

At this point in His ministry, His disciples were wasting time engaging in personal competition? They were concerned with whom He liked best? They were consumed with petty issues like performance and position?

The Kingdom of Heaven was a popularity contest?

Had they learned nothing?

"Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, 'I tell you the truth, unless you…become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.'" (Matthew 18:2-4)

The disciples had totally lost sight of what was truly important. They were caught up in winning. Instead of seeking a place of service, they sought positions of advantage.

Painful, but true – it is easy to lose our eternal perspective and compete for promotions or status in the church.

It’s easy to play the comparison game.

It’s tempting to want to "win" a faith popularity contest.

But Jesus doesn’t want winners – He wants servants.

He wants people who have childlike faith. Who are weak and dependent on Him. People who do not boast in their own abilities – but rely on only Him.

Jesus told us that we might be surprised in the end – for He turned the world’s values upside down. He promised that "many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then."

I think we can believe Him.

After all, He proved it Himself by dying a humble death on a criminal’s cross – and then was raised to the highest glory in His Father’s Kingdom.

You know, I don’t think I care so much about popularity anymore…

I just want to be His child – and seek His approval.

How about you?

(This post is linked with my other blog:

"When in doubt, search God out!"


  1. I'm with you, Sharon; I want Jesus' approval, not the approval of man and definitely I don't want to be popular or successful as the world would define either of them.

    You changed your format putting your Bibles Pick Em here, I like it!!

    so, did you make the flag team?


  2. I like the new format too. And did you make the flag team?

    And Jesus's approval is the one to go for!


  3. OK, now you are going to have to tell us since the others were curious too. DID you make the team along with Miss Popular Butterfingers?

    My, how I relate to this. I have struggled for years with the disease to please and the need for acceptance from man. Oh, how I have struggled!!

    It's a timely reminder that when I worry about earthy reward or the applause of man, I'm acting just like one of those 12. It's comforting to me that from those self- minded men, Jesus grew the literal pillars of the church.

    There's hope for Debbie...

    And I love the new format too. I guess you're working with some brilliant blog consultant or something, right?

  4. Betty - Still working on this issue, getting better. And yes, someone (it was Debbie) suggested that I put the entire "Bible Pick 'Ems" post on this blog, too. So, I'm trying that and seeing how it works out.

    Sandie - Yup, working for Jesus. I can't think of hearing anything better than "Well done, good and faithful servant."

    Debbie - I like how you called it the "disease to please." It is a disease, isn't it?? And it brings such dis-ease into our lives. No peace. I am also glad that God used REAL people to build His church. It gives me hope for myself, too. And yes, I have a new, brilliant blog consultant. Her advice is great, but she needs some work in the humility department. Just sayin'...

    And NO - Nerdy Nancy me did NOT make the team. And neither did my friend who performed perfectly. All the popular girls made the team, no matter how they did in tryouts. Those who weren't in the "in" crowd really lost out. I think the whole thing was rigged. And it was a real disappointment all around. Live and learn.

    I'm sure glad that God's Kingdom doesn't operate that way. He will humble the proud, and the meek shall inherit the earth.



"So [I] have been greatly encouraged in the midst of [my] troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives [me] new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. How [I] thank God for you!" (1 Thessalonians 3:7-9)

Thanks for your comments - it is such a joy to be sharing my journey with friends like YOU!

(NOTE: Anonymous comments will be removed. Thank you for understanding.)