I AM THE GREATEST!!!!
What do you think when you read those words?
Over inflated ego? Got a high opinion of himself? What planet is he living on? I am greater than him! Of course, they are not my words (nor my opinion of myself) but, they are the words of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali (1942-2016).
I have never been into boxing but, I had tremendous respect for Muhammad Ali. I will never forget the sight of him fighting against Parkinsons Disease and lighting the Olympic Torch at the Atlanta Games in 1996. What I particularly liked about him was his ability with a phrase “floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee”. With 56 wins recorded to his name, you could almost think he was the greatest. However, standing against those 56 wins, are his 5 losses. Was he truly the greatest?
In 2002, the BBC presented a program called “The Greatest Briton” and a list was presented for public to vote upon. Included in that list were names such as, Nelson, Shakespeare, Charles Darwin, John Lennon and Diana Princess of Wales. The one who was voted the Greatest Briton was, Winston Churchill. But, was he truly the greatest?
Recently, the idea of greatness has risen to the forefront in our thinking because, over the pond, a certain person has run with a slogan “Making America Great Again”. Now, my purpose in writing this is not political, but it has interested me how this slogan has really caught the imaginations of people throughout the world.
It’s an interesting thought, how do we measure greatness? Is it measured by your reputation? By the amount of money in the bank? In measuring your own greatness do you compare yourself to others? Do you try to impress your peers? Or are you attempting to live up to someone else’s expectations of you? Perhaps it is, as Shakespeare says;
Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.
So, why all this thinking about greatness at this time?
We are in the period of the Church Calendar known as Lent. In my own reflections, I have been following the story of Jesus as prepares Himself for the ordeal of the cross and the triumph of the resurrection. In my reading yesterday, these words really spoke to me;
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
(Matthew 20 vs. 25 – 28)
The kingdom of God takes the standards and values of the world and turns them upon their heads.
Greatest to lowest,
first to last,
master to servant.
Jesus Himself was to demonstrate this so powerfully as, at the Last Supper, He would kneel and wash His disciples’ feet (read John 13 for this).
I wonder, if we took Jesus standard, what would a great nation truly look like? If we took Jesus standard, would I be a truly great person, would you be a truly great person?
I wrote this prayer :-
In Jesus, you were willing to take upon yourself the very nature of a servant. You undertook the lowliest of jobs, and reached out to those that the world had rejected.
Forgive me, for those times, when I have sought affirmation from others, rather than offering encouragement.
Forgive me, for those times, when I have sought to preserve my image and my status, rather than seeking to demonstrate Jesus love to others.
Forgive me, for those times, when I have sought to be served, rather than being willing to serve others.
Lord, in Jesus, you showed the world the full extent of your love. In me, may the name of Jesus be honoured by my words, thoughts and deeds.
This day and always