Let’s be frank: The me, me, me-ism of our time has reached appalling and offensive heights, and it shows little sign of abating. The bombast exhibited by people in religion, politics and business, tooting their own horns, bloviating about their messiah complexes and grabbing the best – if not everything – for themselves, is an outrageous disgrace in a society supposedly built on Judeo-Christian values.
Many of us buy into this sinful way of life because we too are willing to push and shove and bully others out of the way at the table, so that we can grab the most honor, the most prestige, the most good food for ourselves. This leads to a false sense of superiority over others, denying them their fair place at the table, and has become a cancer in our culture.
The parable about how to behave when finding a seat, or how to compose your guest list when you give a luncheon or a dinner, is a pearl of great value.
Are we practicing true religion? Are the fruits of God’s kingdom behaviors being harvested in our lives? I can say this with absolute assurance: If the context of your life is lived in the first person singular, you’re not practicing true religion.
Jesus calls us to hang a plumb line in our lives, supporting what the prophet Micah states:
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
This week, think about what it would mean to not worry so much about yourself and focus on others.
What would it mean to call or visit a shut-in who is lonely?
What would it mean to be courteous of others in the public realm?
What would it mean to stand up and take action when you witness bullying or the denigration of others?
What would it mean to examine how you spend the material resources you have been given, calculating how much goes toward your own pleasure – and how much goes toward the needs of others?
What would it mean to seriously reflect on your preconceived notions about race, gender, economic class and sexuality to cultivate more humility in hearing and understanding someone else’s life?
What would it mean to examine the political, religious and business world, and letting those in power - and those seeking to be in power - know that we need justice, mercy and humility as the content of their behavior, and not arrogance and bloviating?
All of these will increase true religion. Its practice is the only antidote to the fear, hatred, disenfranchisement, anxiety and alienation that permeates our culture and world. If you don’t believe me, ask Jesus.
He has shown you what is good. Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly with your God.