As 2011 draws to a close I turn to one of my favorite pastimes – reading “Best of” lists… you know, the best movies of the year, the best TV shows, the best auto-corrected text messages… But then there’s my favorite – the best albums of the year… I probably read a dozen articles between the beginning of December and the end of January from places like NPR, Rolling Stone, SPIN, Paste and others about which albums were the best… I read them, I listen to the sound samples, sometimes I’ll even buy an album or two that I don’t own… in short I consume the lists to see what I am missing.
We are a people of wanting the best, or what we think is the best. We are a people of comparison… a people of competition. But why? I’ve thought about that quite a bit lately… what makes us so pursuant for the perceived ultimates of life? Before I answer that, let me just say I am not a proponent of mediocrity… people should do their best, whatever that might be – because as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:31 – we should do everything to the glory of God, and I believe that the effort behind a task reveals something about our motivations.
Yet, the obsession we sometimes have with ultimate things can sometimes lead us away from godliness and righteousness. I was reminded of how God looks at such things last week as I prepared for the second in our advent series, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and no that is not a joke – in Luke 1:46-55 Mary sings what has become known as The Magnificant. In it she talks about the reversal of fortunes of the humble and lowly, and the humiliation that will come to the proud and rich. She reveals that God’s priorities are not always ours.
The obsession with the having, being and pursuing the best is the result of sin in our lives… making an idol out of created things rather than pursuing the Creator. And in this pursuit pride and greed and selfishness can take hold of us driving us further from our God.
Jesus’ remedy for this is found in the simple words of Matthew 6:33
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
What is it that you are seeking first?
46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.