While we were all (understandably) focused on Hurricane Nicholas this week, two stories in the news grabbed my attention away from the Weather Channel. Both involved loud power squabbles: the Governor of California’s recall election and reports of bitter rivalries playing out inside the Taliban’s inner circle in Afghanistan.
Now, I must confess that these stories represent nothing unusual; loud political infighting aimed at determining who is first in line seems to be the order of the day. This stuff has happened in the past and will certainly be repeated ad nauseum tomorrow. In fact, each of us has probably participated in similar behavior, albeit on a less-grand scale.
These stories caught my attention because they were juxtaposed in my head alongside our Gospel reading for this coming weekend; they represent behavior that is diametrically opposite of how Jesus taught His followers to behave. And when I say “diametrically”, I am not exaggerating. Eugene Peterson, the pastor and translator of The Message paraphrase, coined a phrase to describe what Jesus taught. Peterson labeled it “the Great Reversal” where Jesus revealed that we have it backwards. The Reality that God sees of “who is first in line” is often exactly opposite of OUR perceptions.
I can almost hear you thinking “Well, I’m sure Jesus is theoretically correct. But how does that work in the REAL world?”