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The Under Rower of Christ

On a recent long-haul flight from New Zealand to the United States I found myself smiling as I approached the Premier Access line to board the plane. You see, I have flown enough that I have gained a status that grants me some special treatments by the airline. While others were queueing up in crowded lines defined by boarding priority numbers, I waltzed past them all on my way to my seat which is ultimately in the same economy cabin as those without my preferred status. In the end we were all served the same meals, given the same service, and delivered to the same destination. During the flight I began to consider the obsession we have in our modern society with gaining some kind of privilege or prestige over one another.

The Trouble with Titles

People love titles. Titles tend to imply an exalted position or status. There can be great persuasive power associated with someone’s name that is followed by PhD, CEO, CKD, or whatever. We have all become accustomed to showing partiality to those whom the world has granted some kind of a title.

Sadly, the Church has, in some instances, fallen into this practice of title worship. When Paul wrote about the gifts Jesus gave to the Church, he listed five areas of service that should “edify the Body of Christ.” Sadly, many people aspire for the title rather than the task of these ministry gifts. As a result, we no longer simply address each other as equals in the Body of Christ. Instead, many add the title of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor (bishop), or Teacher. We even add prefixes to these titles like Assistant, Associate, etc. which are all terms used in the academic world to add a further air of hierarchy to the title. Clearly, the Bible does not promote this kind of conduct.

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Examine Yourself

Forbes reported last year that some sixty-five (65%) percent of adult Americans— 164 million people—have made New Year’s resolutions. The top five categories for New Year’s Resolutions in America are as follows:

  1. Health
  2. Self-Improvement
  3. Money
  4. Love
  5. Career

In 2017, Twitter analyzed the contents of tweets and expanded this list to include things like reading more, being kinder, volunteering time, donating money and renewing old friendships or forming new ones. How about you, Gracious Reader – is the New Year’s Resolution a part of your yearly routine?

As a schoolteacher, every new school year started with a clean slate and a sense of optimism and opportunity for each student. As a tennis coach, each player along with the team started the new season with an unblemished record and the commitment to compete at a higher level than the previous season. How many parents holding their newborn baby promised never to err in the raising and nurturing of this precious life? How many consumers assured themselves when they bought a new computer that they would finally keep all their documents – and especially all those pictures – organized in well-named folders?
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” “Once begun is half done.” There are only so many fresh starts and we naturally want to do the most with them.

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