October is now officially my least favorite month. Here we are at October 26 — a week left in the month — and I am already exhausted. We’ve traveled, we’ve worried, we’ve tried to catch up at work and school. It has been a mentally and physically exhausting few weeks on every level imaginable. This is one of the many reasons I yearn to go back to reading and writing about my faith journey and my Bible readings. They center me and help me make sense of the chaos that is life.
So I’ve moved onto 1 Peter. I knew because I was struggling, I needed the New Testament like a dry plant needs water. I’ve actually read and reread 1 Peter throughout the week. It was hard to focus and I just couldn’t find a verse — much less a chapter — that was really speaking to me. I was looking for the obvious peace, love, and warm fuzzies, but instead tonight I found something else. But it’s something that I’m really beginning to see more and more. ” Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.” – 1 Peter 1:17. That statement of impartially just keeps popping up for me. At one point, I may have focused on the word judges or fear, but at this stage in my life impartially is really a dominant idea. Impartially as in unbiased, without favoritism, seeing all and dealing with all as equals.
The older I get, the less I believe competition has anything to do with being of God. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think ballgames and contests are inherently evil. In fact, I think there are some good things that can be learned through these experiences. However, I don’t think anything that allows one person to be a “winner” while someone else is a “loser” is reflective of the nature of God. However, competition is absolutely the driving force in our society. Political polls, television ratings, school test scores, the list could go on and on. We no longer judge ourselves, our worth, our successes by our own performance. We judge these in comparison to others. This is erroneous thinking. Perhaps this is one of the many interpretations of Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” It does require a total transformation of our minds to view ourselves and others outside of a winner-loser dichotomy.
The real problem with this way of thinking is it takes over the way we view people. So eager to protect ourselves and our place as a “winner”, we see others as “losers.” We resort to name calling, gossiping, judging, and insulting. Even when we help others thinking we are doing God’s will, we still view ourselves as the fortunate, smarter, prettier, holier, wealthier winners swooping down to come to the rescue and save the losers. Jesus never had this attitude and he was swooping down to come to the rescue of all humanity.
Ironically enough, when we project ourselves as winners, it is often a mask. The truth is the more we try to tell the world we are winners, the more likely we really believe ourselves to be losers. That’s why those with a healthy confidence and self-esteem feel less need to boast or scheme or compete. They understand they are worthy and valuable. Most importantly, they view others this way, too. They understand that in God’s grace, we are all winners.