There is an old fable about a contest between the wind and the sun. In this story the wind bragged about being the stronger while the sun asserted the same power. So a contest was agreed upon. A young man wearing a brand new red cloak, of which he was obviously very proud was parading down the street, lapping up the admiring glances he was getting. I’ll show him, said the wind – I’ll get him to take off that cloak.. The wind went first and consumed a great deal of energy in trying to make the man remove his coat. He puffed and he huffed – and he blew as hard as he could. Animals in the fields ran for shelter. Ships in the bay were tossed hither and thither. People rushed indoors to escape the gales that were blowing… but as hard as the wind blew the man only held his cloak more tightly around him. Finally the wind gave up and said to the sun, ‘it is your turn’.
The sun calmly and effortlessly proceeded to shine. People came outdoors to enjoy the lovely weather. Children paddled in the burn. All was bright and warm and lovely. And the young unclasped his cloak, took it off, and carried it over his arm on his way to the lochside for a cool refreshing dip.
This happened in a doctor’s waiting room. The office was full of people waiting to see the doctor. In one corner sat an old woman who looked very sad and worried. A few tears ran down her cheeks. Soon she started to cry quietly. A few more tears ran down her cheeks. Some of the people near her moved their chairs away ever so slightly. The woman began to sob and as time went on she sobbed harder and harder. The people in the waiting room were very embarrassed. They then moved their chairs as far away as they could. They did not know what to do, and they tried as hard as they could to ignore her great gasping sobs. They shifted uncomfortably in their chairs and hoped that their names would be called next. They all sat nervously, that is, all except one small boy. He left his toys in the corner of the room, went over to her and sat in the empty chair next to hers. Reaching up with his small chubby hand he touched her tear stained face and said “All right. …… all right ……… it will be all right. The woman ceased her crying and she took his small hand in hers and she kissed them. Then she smiled and hugged him. All the people were quiet as they watched. They had seen the littlest person in the room do something not one of them had known how to do. The little boy had helped to heal the woman’s sadness. The little boy had brought that woman God’s love. That little boy had taught a room full of adults how to serve.
The Gospels often show us a paradoxical relationship between weakness and greatness. I think that our culture has taught us to assume that the rich, the powerful and the well known are the ones who are great. The Gospel flies in the face of this assumption. So often it is the quiet, gentle, unassuming person who doesn’t like fuss or bother – and how quietly goes about his or her business doing good, loving mercy, bringing about peace or reconciliation – even in a small way – and who loves justice….it is that kind of person who is ultimately powerful, insofar as they bring about great things for God and their fellow human beings
As a country and as individuals, our values need a radical inversion. We need to recover the mind of Christ if we are to be true followers into the 21st century.
What is important to us?
What does greatness mean?
Does doing my best have to mean that I have to be THE best?
What if my best is at the expense of others? How do we treat those who we regard as
less than the best:
the poor and the weak, the vulnerable and the powerless.
Can I learn from others, even if they are not successful, and grown up and strong and powerful?
It is the answers to these questions, lived out in action and not just words, which will be our true test of greatness in the kingdom of God.
- Bragging and Boasting (exlaodicea.wordpress.com)