Some people have the right stuff. They are the cool people of this world; beautiful, stylish, witty, gifted with social grace. They are it in any crowd. My wife, a teacher, says that in among the little ones she teaches in first grade, the social pecking order is already firmly in place. The it girl sets the pace for the rest of the class. Others maneuver to be near her, to bask in her radiance. The handsome, square shouldered athletic guy rules in high school. His queen is often the pencil slim blond girl who has the look patented, the casual toss of her head just so! We never really outgrow this silly stuff. In every social group that I have ever been part of, there are always those who are in, who have mastered the social code.
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus extends an invitation to people to join another kind of in group. His invitation has nothing to do with good looks, fashion, athletic prowess, or brains! Read His words. They are amazing! “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:3-6, NLT) Those who are impoverished in self-confidence, who are broken by the pressures of life and full of sadness, who do not enjoy privilege at the top of the social heap and thus long for justice – these are the ones invited to God’s party! “Why,” you may be asking, “does God have something against beautiful people?” Not at all. The problem with those who have it made in this world is that usually they are satisfied with life and unwilling to pursue a relationship with their Creator.
Jesus widens the invitation in subsequent verses: “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for. You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.” (Matthew 5:7-9, The Message) The world loves the guy without a care in the world, but God loves those who let their hearts be touched by the needs of others. The world loves the sensual, the sexy, the materially successful but God loves the person who understands that real life is lived from the heart. Our society praises the smart ones who know how to play the game to win, but God loves those who bring others into the game, sharing what their knowledge about where to find bread!
A man once told me I was wasting my life in Pastoral ministry. “You spend way too much time around losers,” he said; oblivious to his own spiritual poverty because of his pride of place and face in this world. By the standards of society, he may be right. I do spend a lot of time with hurting people, marginalized people, those forgotten by the rich and powerful. And that is just fine with me! The church should be a refuge for ‘losers,’ to use his term. Anytime a church is structured to marginalize those without the it factor, that church has lost touch with the true mission of being “God’s kind of people.”
Paul reminded the Corinthian Believers, those who had forgotten where they were when God’s love found them, that they had no reason to adopt a superior attitude or to assume they were somehow better than others. “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29, NIV)
Are you striving to learn to be one of the world’s right people, adopting the superficial standards dictated by the social elite, spending your time and money on being fashionable?
If you’re a Believer, I urge you to stop, now!
Make it your goal to be one of God’s people instead – full of God-confidence, with a heart broken on behalf of the suffering, with a strong desire for justice and righteousness, who builds up others. God’s blessings far outweigh being cool, and best of all, they last into eternity.