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Friday, August 31, 2012

Musical Chairs

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As a child, I disliked playing ‘Musical Chairs.’ Remember that party game? Remember the rambunctious scramble when the music stopped? The goal was simple: get a chair regardless of the cost. Only the quickest and toughest survived. However, I guess I was just incompetent, not nimble enough - perhaps too timid to last more than a couple of rounds. There I was, looking for an empty chair, beaten to the last available one or pushed off its edge by a more combative rival. Then, out of the circle I went, to watch more accomplished players.
Thinking of it now, I think the contest taught us in subtle ways that the name of the game is ‘look out for yourself- outmaneuver and outdo others.’
Recently, while walking out of the grocery store, I witnessed (and enjoyed I might add) watching two people go at it, arguing over a parking space. From the conversation, I could tell the one woman had cut in on a space the other was waiting for. And that would not be tolerated. As I walked by, I just couldn’t help myself and said, “When my kids are fighting and yelling ‘Mine! Mine! Mine!’ I take the toy away from both of them. Do I need to take your space away from both of you?”
Here’s some free advice, if you ever have the chance to get between two women who are fighting over a parking space, DON’T DO IT! I tried it! You won’t dig it!
I have news for you. In biblical times, the game was the same. People have always looked out for themselves and have behaved selfishly. There’s no shock about that. This has been and always will be the way of the world. However, God calls Christians to live counter-cultural.
Paul wrote, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you consider one another as more important than yourself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)


He also said, “Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.” (Romans 15:1)
In Luke 14: 7-14, Jesus tells a parable of a dinner party where everyone is scrambling for the best seats. For the most part our world still works that way? Guest lists include those who are most like us, or, if we are candid, those who can give us something in return. And sitting
up close denotes status and power. It’s the way the world works. Not unlike ‘Musical Chairs.’
But tucked inside the story is the teaching of Jesus. “For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” (vs. 11)
So, what have we learned? God does not want His people scrambling and fighting over places and positions. God doesn’t want His children arguing over selfish things. What He wants, (and what He expects,) is that you and I will always behave and respond considering others more important than ourselves.
I believe as the world watches Christians behaving with gentleness and compassion; they too will become more gentle and compassionate. And let’s not forget, “What you sow you will reap.”

[Ron Otto, Lincoln Christian Church]


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