At the end of last month, I found myself watching the NFL draft. There are seven rounds, each with 32 slots for teams to fill out their rosters. The first night of the draft is a mega event with glitz and glamour as players, their families, college coaches, and fans wait to hear which team will call their names. The order of the draft then determines how agents will negotiate their salaries as they make the transition from college to professional football. Although there are more than 100,000 college football athletes, there are only about 1,700 who have the opportunity to play in the NFL (Google.com). That’s less than 2%.
There are numerous other ways we categorize who’s who and what’s what in our lives. Music has a weekly Top 40 list. Nielsen Ratings and other viewing statistics indicate which shows will be canceled or renewed. Each year the companies that make the Fortune 500 list is released. Some law schools and medical schools still rank students, based on their GPA.
Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder about the athletes, songs, shows, companies, or students who don’t make it into that top category. Is the 41st song on its way up the charts or on the way down? What product is sold by the 501st company? Who determines which shows are the most or least popular? What happens to the players who aren’t drafted? How does law school or medical school ranking affect where someone practices?
To consider the rankings we create in another way, what happens to those who don’t make the list? Although I have never watched an entire season, over the years I’ve noticed that the runner-up on American Idol is sometimes more successful than the winner. The football player who wins the Heisman Trophy doesn’t always have the most successful professional career. Some physicians and attorneys who struggled with coursework excel in the field. So, the rankings can be misleading.
As Christians, we are invited to be the best we can be, not in competition or in comparison to one another. We are asked to embody what our Lord and Savior taught us that in God’s eyes, we are all precious, each of us has value and we are loved by the one who created us. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, he repeatedly showed us what it meant and what it means to know who we are matters.
Jesus could’ve chosen Pharisees and Sadducees as his disciples. Instead, he asked fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot, and even a thief to journey with him. Our Savior could’ve only spoken to Hebrews about what His presence in the world meant. And yet, he shared with a Samaritan woman who he was and healed the daughter of a Syrophoenician woman. On his way to Jairus’ home, he stopped to speak with a woman who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years. Those who suffered from leprosy, blindness, or in other ways that made them outcasts, found love, mercy, and grace when they met Jesus.
And when we seek to be like our Savior, we can also lift up someone who believes they do not matter. There are far too many people who feel that who they are and what they do has no meaning. How do we share our gifts in a way that will help others discover God’s blessings in and for their lives? Our dedication to mission and ministry invites us to journey with those who may be considered lost, be ranked at the bottom of some list, or ignored altogether.
Can we begin to see one another through the eyes of love and the words of 1st Corinthians 13? It is a passage that is often shared at weddings. When we focus on the love God has for us and the love we have for one another, we will be transformed. May we seek to be like Jesus in all that we say and do. And Amen.