We live in a system in which everyone judges themselves and each other and creates a hierarchy of those above and below them. Jesus came to confront and blow this system apart.
When we address the topic of judgement, one of the issues at play is shame, the feeling of being less than others, which is related to the social structures of our culture. Cultures are built on hierarchies, with those at the top having privileges that those at the bottom do not possess. These hierarchies are rooted in the belief that those on top have more value than others, while those on the bottom are deemed to have little to no worth.
Since the patterns of this world are structured around social hierarchies, judgment is woven into the way that we think about ourselves and others. Everyone is evaluating themselves and everyone else to determine where they fall in the social hierarchy. We all want others to know where we line up and that we are above others, or at least we think we are above them.
This pattern is illustrated by Jesus’ disciples. In Luke 9:44, Jesus tells his disciples that he is going to be killed. In response to Jesus’ words, the disciples begin to argue about who will be greater in the Kingdom of heaven. The same argument occurs in Luke 20:22, again after Jesus talks about his coming death. The disciples assumed that the hierarchical view of the world is the way that things should operate. Jesus responds in both situations by blowing up their assumptions, by telling them that the greatest in the Kingdom are those who serve.
Shame and its counterpart, arrogance, have no place in the Kingdom. In Matthew 23:12, Jesus confronts the status systems of our world where a few rule over others, while most people cower to those in power. We are to no longer judge ourselves against others in a way that sets us up over or under others. We are called to live in a distinctively different way.
To move in this direction, Dan reviewed the acronym GAP, which Greg introduced last week. G stands for “Get all life from Christ.” We must stop evaluating ourselves based on a false hierarchy. We are invited to understand ourselves based on the truth of our value in the light of the cross. If we are getting our value from our standing in the hierarchy, we are no longer living in the love that we have already received from Christ.
The A represents “Agree with God about everyone’s unsurpassable worth.” All are worth God dying for. Because God went to the extreme to demonstrate his love for us, he could not have gone any further for anyone, no matter how bad they are according to someone’s evaluation. By becoming sin, God traveled the greatest distance possible to save all because all are loved.
The third letter in GAP is P, which stands for “Pray for our enemies.” The hierarchy tries to divide and conquer, to put people in their place because they are enemies. In the Kingdom, no one is a threat, and therefore, we can bless others, even our enemies.
In God’s Kingdom, we can let go of the hierarchy and rest in the truth that we are loved by God, and nothing can happen that can help us climb to some higher point to get more love. We already live in it.
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