Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Different Standard

We are living in a world of pragmatism. Students are ‘judged’ based on their academic results. You will be labeled as a ‘good’ student if you obtain good grades, whereas you will be called a ‘bad’ student if you do not do well in exams. Companies are always on the lookout for people who can provide results. Even if you may have been serving loyally in a company for many years; once you can no longer produce the wanted result, you can be sure that someone will be knocking at your door to replace you. This is how the world judges us. In this world, there is only room for people who are capable and successful.

Sadly, pragmatism has intruded into the Christian community. More than often, leaders are appointed based on their past achievement in church ministries, their academic qualifications and how well they fare in their ‘secular’ occupation. Those who have no achievements to boast about would most probably have no chance of moving into the ranks of leadership. The church treats them no better than how the world treats them.

But when I turn to our Master in the Gospels, I see a totally different standard. When I examine the bunch of disciples, who were going to be the key leaders of Christianity in the first century, I struggle to find anyone of great influence, wealth or wisdom. Matthew was labeled a traitor by his fellow Jews, for he collected tax for the Roman government, Simon the Zealot belonged to a violent party who opposed Rome using violence, whereas Peter, Andrew, James and John were mere fishermen. Based on the standards of the world, the wise and influential Nicodemus or the wealthy young ruler would have fitted the role better. If we were living in the time of Jesus, perhaps many of us would even be criticizing Jesus for his ‘unwise’ decision.

Our world turns her eyes on the successful and the rich. I do not see Jesus spending much time with them. On the contrary, he would rather spend most of his time dwelling among the simple, teachable, humble and available ones, notably his 12 disciples.

Jesus looks not at a person’s ‘record book’; he simply looks at his heart.