being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts Hebrews 11:37-38
Destitute – The real difference between the Christian perspective on life and the world’s perspective can be seen in one simple thing: rank. The world believes in the gospel of first-position. First, best, most, top of the ladder, king of the hill, celebrity status. Our goals in business are formulated around rank. Where do we stand among the competition? How much did we earn? How much bigger are we? It’s the same in our personal lives. Keeping up with the Jones’ wouldn’t be so funny if it weren’t so true. The tragic irony of contemporary life is that we all believe we are better than average. We want our place in the sun – and it better not be last.
That, of course, is the truly Christian difference. Those who really follow Jesus will be treated exactly as He was treated. They will take last place willingly. They will be prepared to accept the rest of the implications of the Greek word hustereo because they are volunteers in the army of the least. Why will they do this? Because they know that the world and all of its measurements is passing away.
Hustereo is a word that means “last, behind, inferior, without dignity and honor, wanting”. Not exactly what we had in mind, is it? When did you decide to give up what was rightfully yours in order to become part of the army of the least? When did you say, “Someone else can use this better than I”, “I will sacrifice what I have earned so that she can have more”, “I don’t need the credit for that (or the pay raise)”, “I can live on less in order for him to live on more”. Yes, we get that twinge of guilt when we see the faces of those starving children, but it lasts only long enough to make an $8 a month contribution. It doesn’t affect our vacation plans (thank goodness, I deserve that vacation). If we really understand the gospel, we will see that the battlefield is littered with spiritual mines, cleverly disguised as justifiable “needs”. We will maim our faith with every new possession. We will bow to the idol of indulgence.
There’s a reason Jesus had no place to lay his head. It was not for lack of God’s provision. It was voluntary last place behavior. But I am afraid it’s just too radical for us. 225 of the world’s richest people have the combined net assets of 2.5 billion of the world’s poor. That is the world’s game plan. Be first at any price. Jesus comes with a very different view. Last place thinking. It doesn’t sit well with a culture that worships winners.
What game are you playing?