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Richard Brand

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Not Happy With Jesus

Posted: 08/09/2012 3:00 pm

It seems to me to be a case of delicious irony. The Olympic Committee was not happy to see the principles taught by Jesus implemented in their games.

As one reads through the Gospels and listens to the teachings of Jesus there seems to be a consistent principle that the way to gain one's life is to lose it in service. Over and over again there is the message that in order to be first one must be willing to be last. When Jesus finishes paying the hired workers their pay, and has given those who came last the same as those who came early, the story ends, "Thus will the last be first and the first last." Later on Jesus says to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be great among you must be willing to be servant of all." In Mark the teaching is recorded that Jesus sat his disciples down and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all..." There are instructions that when you go to a party do not go to the head table, thinking you are supposed to sit there, go to the back of the room and let them call you forward if they want you at the head table.

This notion of putting one's self in a lower position in order to receive the reward looks pretty nice when it is someone like Mother Teresa who sacrificed herself in service to the poor of India and received the Nobel Prize. It looks like the teachings of Jesus work pretty well.

But the delightful irony is that the Olympic Committee did not seem to take to kindly to that approach at the game. The badminton players who considered their situations and decided that they wanted to place lower in their pool play so that their position in the elimination rounds might be more advantageous for them to win were ejected from the games. It is not even likely that the badminton players were thinking of these teachings of Jesus when they decided to play poorly and lose. But what they did does seem to me to be pretty close to what Jesus was talking about. You want to be first, then maybe being last will be the best way to go. But the Olympic Committee decided that you can't bring that kind of self-sacrificing stuff into these games. Who knows, the next thing that might happen is people will start trying to tie each other and not win. The very idea -- that you might win by losing. Whoever thought of that crazy idea?

 
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