In high school, I wasn’t the greatest athlete but my friend Scott Masengill did ask me to join him on the Cross Country Team. I thought that was a good idea. Excited, I called my Mom from the pay phone at school; “Hey Mom, guess what?” I said, “I’m gonna run Cross Country.” Her response I’ll never forget. She said, “When will you be back?”
I had to explain that “Cross Country” was a sport not a destination. I wasn’t the best runner the school ever had but, I will say this, I was the worst. Or, maybe that was a tie between me and a guy named Peanut. Why his mother named him Peanut, I don’t know.
One day during a grueling run I noticed that Peanut and I were in a battle for last place. A three mile run seemed like a marathon through a field of molasses and I wondered if I would survive to the end. Neck and neck Peanut and I were running with as much strength as we had. A sort of camaraderie developed between us and it was good to know there was someone else on the team that understood my pain. When we rounded the final corner, the finish line came into view. The rest of the team, of course, was already there. All of them had changed back into their street clothes, some were eating dinner and a few had moved on to a higher grade.
Not wanting the shame of coming in dead last, I abandoned my friendship with Peanut and dashed in front by at least ten yards. Poor Peanut was certain to bare the shame all on his own and I did feel bad about it for a few seconds. The next thing I remember seeing was the back of Peanut’s head as he flew past me like a scooter with rocket fuel. How was I to have known he had it in him? I finished the race dead last, vowing to remove myself from the Cross Country team and find a sport where I am not bothered by other competitors.
Dead last is not a desired position in most anything here on earth but, in the kingdom of God, it’s not so bad. In fact, the principles of the Kingdom are often just the opposite of what we know to be right otherwise. Take, for example, the statement of Jesus in Matthew 19:30 “But many who are first will be last and the last first.” This makes me wonder why we have so many First Baptist Churches. Don’t they know they will be last at the great banquet in heaven? Knowing what I know from this verse and given the opportunity to start a church, I think I would call it, “The Last Church of the Weak and Helpless.” That should give us a jumpstart.
A quick glance at kingdom principles does reflect a stark contrast to our everyday lives and culture. The bible teaches that “Pride goes before destruction,” (Proverbs 16:18) “God’s power is perfected in weakness,” (2 Corinthians 12:9) and “Whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your servant,” (Mark10:44). That doesn’t sound like the makings of a Hollywood movie. Whoever heard of giving in order to receive, of walking the extra mile or forgiving and loving your enemy?
Truly the principles of the Kingdom of God are radical but to live them is to begin to perceive the great message of Jesus; there is a realm of life that is far above what we perceive. It consists not only of strange and different principles but also of a peace and unquestionable victory with every situation of life.
I may get confused, from time to time, as I try to sort out the higher way of life but in heaven I will be first at Cross Country.
MATT FORE is a Christian Entertainer, Speaker, Author and Sleight of Hand Artist who travels the country delivering his brand of Hilarity and Amazement for Church Banquets, Conferences, Family Nights and Awards presentations. Do you want Hilarious Christian Entertainment at Your Event? Do you want relevant, biblical (and brief:) insights delivered in a powerful and engaging way? Grab your phone and dial 423-926-7683 and ask for a free information kit. Also visit our site at www.mattfore.com.