The Goal is to Be, Not to Be the Best
I have been an avid skier since I was three years old and my dad taught me to ski in our front yard that was on a hill. Since then I have spent many winters strapping pieces of wood to my feet and trying not to break a leg on the way down the hill. By the time I reached high school, I financed my ski habit by teaching lessons so I could ski for free.
In all those years of skiing I have discovered an important lesson. For a diehard skier, the only thing that matters is skiing. Within the world of skiing, it is very easy to get caught up in the brands of skis, the difficulty of the mountain, the prestige of the mountain, or who has the best technique or the fastest speed. However, for those who truly love to ski, all that matters is skiing. It does not matter if your skies cost thousands of dollars and are top of the line or if they were a $20 find on Craigslist. It doesn’t matter if you ski in your backyard or in the Swiss Alps. It doesn’t even matter if you ski the hardest slopes or you stay on the bunny slopes. All that matters is the love of the sport.
This is what it is in the life of a Christian. It becomes very easy to get caught up in who has the best church or the most authentic traditions. Too often Christians spend their time debating who is the most righteous, or the best Christian. Yet, for the authentic followers of Jesus, all that matters is following Jesus. It does not matter if we follow the best or carry the biggest Bible or even if our traditions are the most authentic. What matters most is that we follow Jesus.
Many times the “Christians” who argue the most are the ones who have forgotten that the goal is not to be the best, but to follow. Christians often times get caught up in trying to be the best and as a result we forget that we are not called to be the best. We are simply called to follow. There will always be Christians who seem to be holier than we are or have better “religious-technique” than us but Christians have no need to worry about that. Instead, we only have to follow Jesus.
In the Bible, Jesus gives us the image of what it looks like to follow without trying to keep up with others. At one point, Jesus joins his followers for a meal and before the meal gets started Jesus gets down and begins washing the feet of those around him. After Jesus washes everyone’s feet, he goes back and says this is the example we are to follow.
So then, for those of you reading this, if you have experienced the Christians who are caught up with who is the best or the most-right, then I must apologize. They have forgotten what it is to follow Jesus. Instead my hope and prayer is that instead of Christians who are bickering and fighting we will find Christians who are passionate about simply following the same Jesus who got down on His hands and knees and washed some dirty, disgusting feet that had walked on dirt roads and probably stepped in some gross stuff.
Worship services are held at California United Methodist Church, 227 Third St., every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. On the first Wednesday of each month, the church hosts a community potluck at 6:30 p.m.
To help support the CUMC’s Weekend Feeding program, which feeds hungry kids, visit gofundme.com/weekendfeed.
Commentary by Pastor B.T. Gilligan for Pennsylvania Bridges