Last week we kicked off a 5-week sermon series about understanding Jesus’ teachings from a place of expanded consciousness. (So, read last week’s blog: The Birth of Expanded Consciousness if you need to catch up.)
In Matthew 18:1 the disciples ask Jesus, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” In answer, Jesus calls a child forward and says, “Those who make themselves as humble as this child are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” The irony in this statement is that anyone who is humble knows that there IS NO greatest. Humility means knowing that you really aren’t any better or any worse than anyone else. You may do certain things better, but you don’t put yourself above another. And you may screw up, but you do not make yourself the bottom of the heap either. Both are really false pride.
I doubt the disciples got it.
Actually, most of society doesn’t get it. Our society is TOTALLY into competition.
When our kids are little and in sports, most of us probably tell them that winning isn’t important. They should just have fun and play the best that they can. That works pretty well for the age when they are picking dandelions on the soccer field and turning cartwheels in the outfield. And even then, us parents are getting anxious because they aren’t paying attention!
Then they get a little older and they realize their parents only cheer when they make a good play and score. And, they have coaches who don’t subscribe to the “winning isn’t everything rule.” By the time they hit high school, they subscribe to the Vince Lombardi mindset: “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”
Now, let me be clear. Some competition is fun and healthy. But competition has turned this world into an “I’m better, we’re better; I’m right, we’re right and therefore we don’t need to care about you” sort of world. The number of problems this attitude has caused are too numerous to count.
Competition usually comes from a place of constricted consciousness. A place of narrow, limited thinking. A place of us against them. A place of ego. This is where the disciples are.
Jesus speaks from a place of expanded consciousness. A place of spirit. A place of oneness with all people. A place of freedom and connectedness to the Divine. You can see the challenge he faced in getting through to people, can’t you?
Most philosophers, historians and spiritual leaders agree that the world is going through an evolution of consciousness, that we can observe different stages of consciousness in the world and in people. Richard Rohr points out that every age believes it is better than the last age. In his blog entitled “Evolving Consciousness” he states,
C. S. Lewis believed it was undemocratic to give too much power to the present generation or one’s own times. He called this “chronological snobbery,” as if your own age was the superior age and the final result of evolution. I would say the same about one’s present level of consciousness. Our narcissism always tends to think our own present stage of consciousness is the ultimate stage! People normally cannot understand anybody at higher stages (they look heretical or dangerous) and they look upon all in the earlier stages as superstitious, stupid, or naïve. We each think we are the proper reference point for all reality. And I would say that enlightenment is the ability to include, honor, and make use of every level of consciousness—both in yourself and in others. To be honest, such humility and patience is rather rare, yet it is at the heart of the mystery of forgiveness, inclusivity, and compassion.
Compassion seems to me to be the flip side of competition. Compassion comes from a place of expanded consciousness. People are only able to be compassionate when they recognize their common humanity with others who are different, when they see themselves in the other; when winning, being better, and being right don’t become everything.
Jesus challenges all of us to live in a place of expanded consciousness. Watch for ways you can extend kindness, help, and compassion.