Wednesday morning. In the post-election fog that was Wednesday morning, I stood in my kitchen, holding my phone in one hand and scrolling through my newsfeed with the other, as the HVAC guy worked in the utility closet.
I was reading posts and comments, looking at maps of states and counties painted with red or blue, skimming Wednesday Morning Quarterback articles, and trying to filter through Bible passages, my own thoughts as a white female pastor, and human emotions bubbling inside me as he changed the filter and said “it looks great.” I nodded.
But what is great?
Some of my friends, professing Christians, genuinely feel this is a great day. Some have prayed and reasoned and have humbly called us all to walk together in unity and to support our new President. Some have resorted to the reaction of middle schoolers following a gym class victory. Some see the present as awful and the future as great.
Others of my friends, also professing Christians, have been crying since midnight. Some prayed that this day would not come and have said they’ve submitted applications to move to Canada. Some have shrugged their shoulders and said our country’s system of checks and balances would protect any harm from being done. Some see the present as continually needing improvement. To them, the possibility of progressing toward greatness now seems lost.
What is greatness? What does it mean to be great—is it about jobs and the economy, parading an issue, speaking your mind or polishing the truth? Is it prosperity for me or for somebody else, or name recognition or alignment with what I think to be biblical values? Is greatness defined by making a mark in history through political power?
Perhaps it’s something different.
Greatness and Mrs. Zebedee
I always laugh at the story in Matthew 20 of Mrs. Zebedee coming to Jesus to lobby for her sons to become great. She doesn’t seem to care which one gets what position—just that somebody related to her gets to sit on the sides of the King. What’s interesting is that she completely acknowledges Jesus’ authority and has no qualms about who He is. It’s just her picture—and her sons’ picture—of greatness that is distorted.
Just like ours. Even Christ-followers.
When the other disciples hear about the helicopter parenting of their teammates’ mom and what the Zebedee brothers told Him, Jesus speaks to them all (he has a literal “come-to-Jesus” meeting!). He speaks to all of us:
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
To be great again is not to turn back the clock to a chapter of American history, but to embody the history of God, two thousand years ago, in the God-man of Christ. Greatness is not based on a bubble you might have filled in the other day, what issues and sides a government embraces, or when your corner of the world begins to look the way you want it. It’s not based on what side you’re sitting on or who your parents are, what they did for you, or how you want to look.
True greatness is not a what but a how. It’s how you understand what it means to follow your Lord, how you see yourself and your fellow human beings, how and who you serve in the days after November 8. It’s about becoming, serving, giving, sacrificing. It’s about loving people and standing up for the weak, regardless of whether that platform was voted for or not. It’s about offering those around you an alternative source of hope – one that is not dependent on earthly wins or losses but is sustained by our Creator and made accessible to all. True greatness is about loving people and standing up for the weak. Click To Tweet
Some of us don’t feel great—and that’s ok. Some of us feel like November 9 is the greatest day of history. Others of us are somewhere in between – trying to get our bearings, searching for words and filtering emotions.
But this next chapter is an opportunity for the Church, the followers of Jesus, to commit to being great – not by the standards or agendas of earthly politics, but by the way marked out for us by God, through Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit.