Essentials: Same Boat

Have you ever been 'one upped' by someone who always had a better story than you? We learn this game early on: "I am better than you are." We learn it from the time we are able to make comparisons, and this game takes on more sinister forms as we grow up. 

In Romans 3, Paul talks about how there were Jews who believed they were more righteous just because they were Jews. But Paul calls their bluff: "You only want to be proved right so you can feel good about yourself and judge others." To make his point, he quotes the Psalms (read Romans 3:10-18). We've got to get past this childish notion that any of us are right with God because we somehow stand out above others. 

He states it as clearly as he can in Romans 3:23: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..."

That means we sit here as equals. There's no use comparing yourself to others around you, because we all have failed. We react to that news in one of two ways: 1) Either we will resent being told we are as fouled up as everyone else, or 2) We will be relieved. I think it is a relief to know we are all unfinished; we are all far from completed and perfected. We all need Jesus. 

To receive all God has for us, we have to accept that we are incomplete and cannot win God's favor by comparing ourselves to others that we think are inferior to us. Why do we need a Savior if we ourselves do not need saving? 

Years ago, I enjoyed watching the reality TV show "Survivor". I enjoyed watching people push themselves to their limits and compete against the elements and those they made alliances with. I was fascinated by how contestants had to work with each other but couldn't trust any one since only one person could win. During each episode, someone would get voted off the island, so survivors either had to make deals with people or win immunity. 

Immunity could be won through competition with the other contestants. If you could accomplish more, accumulate more, or cheat more, you would come out on top and be exempt from being voted off the island for that episode. 

We call this 'reality' TV, but it's not reality at all. Immunity is not won by those who can accomplish more, accumulate more, or cheat more. Immunity is not won through competing with each other and somehow rising to the top. It is Jesus alone who saves us in this wilderness; it's not about survival of the fittest.  Our only immunity is a gift from God that we accept by faith!

In our new series "Essentials for the Journey", I am highlighting those things from God that save us in the wilderness of life. Being free from comparisons with each other is one of those things that keep me alive. 

We are no better than each other. We are equals. It is a gift from God that I do not have to compete with you, because it is only God who moves us from disgrace to grace. We have nothing to boast about except for Jesus. If I'm going to boast, I'm going to boast about Jesus. 

His Gospel is life in the wilderness. We cannot survive without it.