|Grass Roots Art Center in Lucas Kansas|
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. Colossians 3:12-014 Translation from The MessageAs is typical, this rendering from The Message uses more idiomatic American English but also adds a phrase that is probably not in the original in any literal sense: "Be...content with second place." For contemporary Americans, this phrase gets at the heart of many of our issues as we try to live the Christian life in the midst of our competitive and media drenched culture. We seemed programmed to not accept second place. That is for losers, not winners and we are and are meant to be winners. If we lose that competitive edge to win, to be in first place, we will begin to decline as a society and culture. That is our fear.
This scripture is not about national political strategy but it goes much deeper than that. As Christians we have been incorporated into the Body of Christ and have thus entered into a new life and new reality that is based on a different set of values and norms. In this new world, who is in first place, or second, or last is irrelevant. As important we might think it might be, our rank is not to be the driving force of our life. Love is to be that driving force that permits us to forgive those who oppose us and to be even-tempered regadless of the way events turn out.
The worst thing is not to be in second place. The worst thing is to close our hearts to the saving presence of the spirit which the Divine One offers us.