Jesus refused the cult of personality. He did not call attention to himself. He always pointed to others – to God above all, but also to those who had faith, regardless of their ethnicity, wealth, employment, or status in life. He even refused a follower’s blessing that was directed toward his mother and her role in bearing and nurturing him. He always deflected praise and attention in order to point to God.
He didn’t do this with an aura of false humility. He wasn’t a person who cut himself down or diminished himself in ways that either negated his obvious gifts and abilities or, on the other side of the spectrum, made people want to jump in with praise in order to build him back up. He was genuine – offering who he was, by the grace of God, for the glory of God and the building of the kingdom that was far greater than most of us can even imagine. He lived for a bigger purpose.
How different that is from our situation today! We seem to live in a world where humility is no longer a virtue, where the goal is attention and personal adulation. No one else’s accomplishment is too good to claim for oneself. No negative situation is too awful or complex to simply blame it on someone else. No evidence is too strong to counter one’s personal alternative version of reality. No lie is too big to tell if it serves a purpose. All is done to gain and maintain power, and to enrich oneself at the expense of others.
Have we, as individuals, as self-professed Christians, and as a nation built on Christian principles, actually clothed ourselves with Christ? In what ways are we creating a world where “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus”? Where is this unity and kinship on display? Where are the prophets calling us to care for the least, the poor, the immigrant and refugee, the down-trodden, the unemployed, the hungry, and “huddled masses yearning to breathe free”?
We have an election coming up. I will not wade into politics here. What I will do is examine myself and urge that you do the same in the strongest possible terms. We need our votes to reflect the fullness and depth of the Gospel message. We need to live for a larger purpose and elect those who share that vision, demeanor, morality, and thirst for justice. We need to fulfill the dream of Jesus that all may be one. We need to ensure to the greatest extent we can that our laws and our nation ever more fully share God’s abiding love for all people and bring the Kingdom Jesus preached into being.
Amy Florian is a teacher and consultant working in Chicago. For many years she has partnered with the Passionists. Visit Amy’s website: http://www.corgenius.com/.