Wednesday, Jan 15, 2020. Humans tend to compare themselves to others. We tend to look for a ranking within our environment. This can be the work place, or the network we are part of. It can also be the class in school, or our fellow students, or the co-workers in our company.
Who is the best in sports? Which football club is in the champion's league? Who is the best club, the best trainer, the best striker? We have the same approach in other parts of social life. Who is the best performer? Who is the best musician? Who is the best scientist?
Who is best? …
Humans tend to create a ranking. We implicitly or explicitly tend to work with a list of people, where we put to the top the one who does it best, then the second best, then the third, then a group of further talented people, then the rest. This seems to be what our mind can work with. It is the structure of our mental processing. One two three, the group, the rest.
It is very interesting to observe the role of ranking. People get into jobs, because they have been ranked top in some selection list. People get invitations, because they are considered prominent. People get particular attention and acknowledgement, because they are ranked high. Our social processes depend strongly on the ranking mechanisms. And it is everywhere.
Of course, we all know that the ranking is only looking at one particular talent or ability. We all have our friends, we all know how it is when we love someone. We forget the ranking. We forget the talent. We might love this or that particular strength, but usually when it comes to love and friendship, we are no longer bound to the particular talent of a person, but we love the person itself, his or her character, him just as he is, her just as she is. Love does not make talent useless, but it puts it into place. Love is more than talent.
And I have another proposition. All people have their particular talent. They all have their particular combination of strength and abilities. For some the combination is one highly prominent talent. For others it is a combination, they might be very much open to listen, for example. Who is a good listener? Some might be good in admiring others. They give love and acknowledgement to others. Some do not forget things which need to be done. They take care, they do not forget people, they remember problems. There are so many talents which are very valuable, but rarely in our public league tables of special talents! We should open our eyes to the full breadth of talent, which is needed for our community.
Jesus' Ranking …
There is another important point. Jesus is changing our rankings. When you read the gospels, you find his monumental speech given on the mount, see Matthew 5-7. It starts with a revolution, with changing the ranking mechanism we usually work with. Read it, Jesus says:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5,3)
Jesus talks a lot about the kingdom of heaven. He talks about the community with God, the creator, the beginning and the end. The kingdom of heaven is a term pointing to the original and eternal community with the God who made all what is. This community is described as good, as holy, as full of truth, love, faithfulness and purity. Blessing points to everything which comes from the eternal heavenly community. Heaven points to God who is beyond our world. This location is not within our world, but far away. At the same time, God is there in the middle of our world. He came as a human in Jesus. And he wants to have community with us through the Holy Spirit.
Our ranking is not valid when it comes to God. Who is able to get into the community with God? We are not getting there by our talent. We do not get there by our achievement. We do not get into this community by using our money, or our fame, or our status. All of this does not help us.
But being poor before God, being poor in spirit, that is the starting point to address him. He made everything anyway. Being poor in spirit means that we acknowledge that all talent is merely a present and gift of the most high. We have nothing we could give to buy anything from him. But we can receive his love, his truth, his mercy. We can acknowledge him as the creator, as the origin and purpose of the creation. Here, when we start to look at him as those who are poor indeed, we find an open door to enter his community. It is the door he created in Jesus. This door can be yours and it can be mine today and each and every minute. (Roland Potthast)
This is part of the trilogy project “Faith of a Scientist”.