There is no lifeboat. . .
(Jordan Curtis strives on being a follower of Jesus more than a leader of people. He is the youth pastor at Crossview Christian Church and writer for the One21 blogging community.)
Imagine you were on a life boat in the middle of the ocean because you were just a part of a shipwreck. Now, there are 12 people on the lifeboat, however, there are only enough provisions for 10 people to survive more than two days. The group decides to choose two people to throw overboard (I know this sounds a little barbaric, but stick with me). Immediately you have to make some decisions and make yourself look like someone who cannot be thrown overboard. There are several ways you can do this: one is by associating yourself with the right person or people (you know, if you can’t be the best, associate yourself with the best and people might confuse you for the best). Another way is to prove your greatness, whether it is by strength, intelligence, or a skill which you have that would be most beneficial for the rest of the members of the boat (you are going to have to sell it though, because everyone magically has a new “skill” now as well). The whole point is that you prove yourself in one way or another, giving people a reason to keep you around.
This is strikingly familiar to the way we live our lives, isn’t it? I mean, sure, we aren’t about to vote someone off the boat to be left for dead, but sometimes we set ourselves up as though we don’t want to be left for dead. Our tactics are the same as if we were on that slightly crowded lifeboat. People have lived this way for basically all of time. Most people try to “prove” themselves in one way or another. For some it is by the people with whom they associate. Yet for others it is the skills they try to sell. What is is for you?
Then Jesus comes along and makes this grand announcement, “There is no lifeboat…”
But what does he mean exactly? Everyone in the world it seems pretty much agrees that we are living on this hypothetical lifeboat where we have to prove ourselves and make a name for ourselves. But Jesus says it’s not so. He wants to be the one to give us our identity and tell us who we are. In fact, there was a day when he was walking with his followers and they were arguing about which one of them was the greatest. There was another day when the mother of two boys who were following Jesus went up to him and asked that they could have the seats closest to him. She was longing for them to be associated with him more than the others so they would be viewed as important. Jesus’ response never changed. He always said, “If anyone wants to be great he must be a servant of all.” But servants don’t make names for themselves, they are given their name. I think that is what Jesus is trying to tell his followers. He is trying to tell us that in a world full of people who have to make a name for themselves we don’t have to live that way, because he has told us who we are. Knowing who we are frees us to do what we are supposed to do.