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Being great for the greater good

Being great for the greater good

Rev. Michael T. Bush

“Jesus asked his disciples, ‘What were you arguing about on the way?’ But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest” – Mark 9:33-34

This has been such a trying and confusing time as we deal with a deadly virus, the ease of spread, contradictory governmental directives, nonstop breaking news, and the ensuing fear that has gripped people.

In addition, many are debating who is worth saving and who is worth sacrificing, which has multiplied the stress and challenge. Such assessment of human worth is not a new issue, as we are often jostling for position, competing against one another, and otherwise claiming or clamoring to be greater than someone else.

Have you ever been the greatest in some category? Thought you were? Wanted to be? Perhaps that desire comes from a drive to survive.

If we are perceived as having greater value, then we will more likely obtain plentiful resources and maybe have a longer life.

On the other hand, perhaps this nudge toward greatness is a drive to live the truth of who we really are.

In the Scriptures of my spiritual tradition, we are made in the image of God; we are the great and beautiful children of the creator of the cosmos. Perhaps something within us remembers this oft-buried reality and yearns to live into the greatness that God intends.

And the truth about greatness in the spiritual path I follow, the way of Jesus, is this: God made us not to be greater than others, but greater for and with others.

The disciples of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark were concerned about their own greatness. We, too, might seek to be the greatest gymnasts or professors or health-care providers or plumbers or corporate officers or parents or activists or nation. But without the spirit’s power that heals, transforms, and brings justice, love, and light within us to the world, we often focus on being greater than others and can then do harm to others — which is not great at all.

Jesus reminded his disciples that we follow the one who leads us in the path of humility, the path of making room for the spirit who empowers true greatness in us. On this path, we live lives not greater than others, but greater for and with others, a greatness that does not raise me above you, but a greatness in which we raise up one another.

True greatness is not shoving others aside, sacrificing the marginalized, or making sure we have more than our neighbor. True greatness is living centered in the abundant love, justice, and hope of the divine so we can live as our best selves, our greatest selves, to bring more of the fullness of love, life, healing and justice for and with our neighbors.

Tucson, I believe and pray that we can be truly great in this difficult time.

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