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The Second Person in the Kingdom

(a Steve Orr scripture reflection)

 

Quick: Name the second person to walk on the moon. Most people can tell you Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon. After that, for most of us, it gets a bit fuzzy. We can Google the answer in a few seconds—but that’s not the point of this exercise.

 

Many leadership and management classes, sales seminars, and self-help recordings start with some version of: “Do you remember who was the second...?”

 

Participants may discuss it for a while, but rarely can anyone come up with the answer. It turns out that coming up with the right answer is not the point. Eventually, the secret is revealed: The answer doesn’t matter. No one cares who’s second. All that matters is who’s first. 

 

It’s a pernicious kind of thinking. It belongs to the same divisive, manipulative, deceptive motivational claptrap as the 110% lie. It’s the idea that whatever is first has more value and whatever is not first is somehow less than

 

Let’s be clear: People who excel are worthy of praise and reward. But someone is always going to be second...and third...and last. Are these people—who competed and tried their best—to be disdained just because they didn’t come in first?

 

This week’s scriptures, especially the 1st John passage, ask us to rest in the knowledge that God only asks us to love one another and follow the commandments. We must trust that God will ensure the victory. Our only “contributions” are our faith, love, and obedience.

 

We are not competing with one another to be the best Christian, to be “first” in faith, love, and obedience. Even if it were possible to give 110%, it wouldn’t ensure the victory. It’s not that God doesn’t ask us to do things in the Kingdom: It’s just not a competition. Loving, serving, obeying, and trusting in God are actions all of us can perform.

 

We don’t need to know who comes in second in God’s Kingdom because we don’t need to know who comes in first. In the Kingdom, none of that matters. 


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