There is a great deal of pressure in our success-driven, consumer-minded society to be successful. There is plenty of pressure for perfection. The world we live in rewards those who sell well the perception that they have it all together. First person past the post gets the big prize. Those who’ve assembled the most toys enjoy status and attention. The standard set by our culture of consumption has caused many to crumble under pressure. And why wouldn’t they? The standards set by our media mad society are so high that most cannot attain to them. Try as we might to please everybody, inevitably we always find that it is impossible to meet everyone else’s standards.
It is into this world, that Jesus comes proclaiming a message that is vastly different. We follow Christ the King whose reign is defined by servanthood, humility, and sacrifice. We embrace the message of Christ the King whose life was defined by the way of nonviolence. Our King proclaims a new way of being, that includes giving to others, reaching out to those who have less, seeking to embrace poverty, taking on another’s pain and suffering, and striving to name our own weaknesses and embrace vulnerability. This to me is tremendously good news. I don’t know about you, but I am often less than perfect. Knowing that Christ the King will love me even in my failings is Good News indeed.
In No Man Is an Island, Thomas Merton wrote,
“But the [person] who is not afraid to admit everything that he/she sees to be wrong with him/herself, and yet recognizes that he/she may be the object of God’s love precisely because of his/her shortcomings, can begin to be sincere. His/her sincerity is based on confidence, not in his/her own illusions about him/herself, but in the endless, unfailing mercy of God.”
In the Reign of Christ, people are free to be able to be vulnerable. In the Reign of Christ people try, and people fail. In the Reign of Christ people are forgiven, and people are loved. In the Reign of Christ perfection is not a goal. Instead, in the Reign of Christ, desire to love God, and others with all our heart and mind and soul is assumed. In the Reign of Christ sincerity is abundant. In the Reign if Christ brothers and sisters in Christ are confident in the endless and unfailing mercy of God. In the Reign of Christ people of God are aware that they are the object of God’s love precisely because we are not perfect.
There are certainly times that we can become overly confident in our own abilities and our own accomplishments. This confidence, or perhaps arrogance, comes from believing that we are actually in control of most of what happens in our lives. Funny thing is, it takes but a moment of crisis to remind us of how very little we have control over what happens in our own lives. Flowing Christ the King we are encouraged to embrace a new level of confidence and a new level of sincerity. It is a level of confidence and sincerity that is not born not out of any of our own accomplishments, but a confidence planted within us by a God of abundant grace who has shown us unfailing and unwavering love and mercy.
It is out of that unfailing love, and unfailing mercy that we are called to embrace The opportunity to show God’s love and mercy to others. Living in the Reign of Christ allows us to show love and mercy, and kindness to others despite our shortcomings. Living in the Reign of Christ allows serve knowing that we do not need to be perfect.
Success is defined not by status, bank statements, or stuff. Success is service – it is defined by love for God as expressed in love for others.