The Way of the World
When throttled and measured, selfishness can appear chic and sexy. Just a sprinkle here and there to keep life “interesting.” But if we want to see where it ultimately leads, we need only go to the government halls of power, where lobbyists buy votes with dark money. Or visit the people who live in cardboard boxes on Skid Row—who have no food, medical care, or hope. Or see the scant hovels in Mumbai, India, where hunger, disease, and death make daily house calls.
Every problem in the world can be traced somehow to the innate propensity we have to better ourselves at the expense of others. In America, the cry of Cain, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” continues to echo through the corridors of time, with many responding in an emphatic “No!” Instinctively we do not believe we are responsible for anyone but ourselves and our families. It is the American way—the way of rugged individualism—to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps.
But sadly, some don’t have any boots!
A Different Kind of World
In contrast, God presents a different kind of world for us to consider. In this different world, we put others first and consider ourselves servants to our families and neighbors. Material wealth is subservient to the treasure of human relationships. Also, personal integrity is coveted as the “gold standard” of behavior.
The Kingdom of God has no room for people who care only for themselves. The allegory has been told about a distinguishing feature of those who will occupy heaven and hell. None of the people in either place will have elbows, which makes it incredibly hard for them to feed themselves. How can they put food in their mouths if they can’t bend their arm?
Their attitude toward those around them determines the difference between nourishment and starvation. In heaven, everyone feeds each other, which turns each meal into a glorious time of sharing and fellowship, whereas in hell, there is great bewilderment and stress because no one can figure out how to get the food from their plates to their mouths. For them, it is a debilitating mystery.
In his wisdom God has reserved eternity for those who hunger and thirst after righteousness or right living! Heaven will be an eternal “Woodstock-like” celebration of truth and justice, where the celebrities are the “meek” and “poor in spirit” that Jesus spoke about in Matthew 5.
The world’s way is to denigrate all this by emphasizing personal fulfillment and individual achievement. American culture is obsessed with “me, myself, and I.” To a great extent, we have lost our sense of community, with war being the one time we seem to rally around the flag to discuss the benefits of working together.
Written by Rich DuBose