Last In Line
How often do we go to the movies for the premiere of a new blockbuster movie and go early so that we can be first in line? How often have we cut in line to get closer to the front of it? We speed down the road to get to our destinations on time trying to beat the others on the road. We rush to beat traffic, we struggle through life to have the best job, to be recognized in our life, to have the best. But is it not strange that everything we do in this life according to the world’s standards is totally opposite of what God wants from us? Everything that Jesus says goes against our human nature. Whatever we give up on this earth, will be a blessing for us.
In the Gospel reading from Matthew, Peter asks Jesus: Lo, we have left everything and followed you. What then shall we have? And, Jesus replies: Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many that are first will be last, and the last first."
Jesus often tells us, that many who are first will be last and the last will be first. The last one in line will be the first one to enter paradise with Jesus and His Father. Jesus wants our allegiance and our love, however, He does not need it to survive. If we bring ourselves to God, and acknowledge Him in our lives, He will to be our advocate to the Father, and He will speak favorably with the Father about us heaven. And if anyone who is a Christian knows about being one, being a Christian often makes you the scourge of the world. You are looked down upon and you are the least considered in the world. Satan really does not care about others of other faiths, they already are his, he cares about destroying the ones that have faith in Christ. It is those individuals that cause him weakness and discomfort. It is the humble of heart that enter the kingdom. It is those who love others and sacrifice themselves for others that Satan fears—so-much-so, that he causes the world to hate, betray and use us. He causes the world to lure us and bring us to the “front of the line.” The most dangerous place in any battle are the frontlines, and when we are brought to the front, we are susceptible to all that the enemy forces have to offer.
Christ, on the other hand, wants us safe and protected. He wants us in the back, away from the hottest parts of the battle. Sure, one could argue what kind of line Christ is talking about, and it is also true that Christ wants us at the frontlines. The frontlines are where we learn. Where we have the choices, where we make mistakes. As we grow in our faith, we learn to allow God to fight our battles and we learn to step back and allow Christ to defend us and protect us, and in doing so, others go out before us pushing us further and further back out of the hottest parts of the battle. So far back that eventually we end up dead last, closer to heaven where we will be first. I know the concept is hard to understand, but we only belong at the front of the line for a while, where we really belong is at the back of the line. It is those who see all before them that can see clearly what is lying ahead.
We are called to love Christ more than our mothers and fathers, more than our sons and daughters. We are called to carry the cross and follow Him, He that is on the battle front, He that is at the front of the line, the rest that are ahead of Christ are blinded to the tactics of the enemy. Jesus is our point man. He can show us the pitfalls and traps that are laid out before us by the enemy. He shows us the wolves in sheep’s clothing, He shows us the false prophets and false teachers and the antichrists. They are walking before Christ, outside His grace, outside His loving arms and they lead others astray. Those who are in the front of the line will not enter the kingdom of heaven. We who allow Christ to lead us know where to stand. And, still we find ourselves outside of the path that God has set for us and we get wounded and find ourselves full of pain and torment. It is true, sometimes even when we follow Jesus, we still suffer, but the suffering is a blessing to us. I know, I know, suffering sucks.
Saint Paul speaks about what the faithful go through in the book of Hebrews even when they follow Christ. BRETHREN, all the saints through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and scourging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were killed with the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, ill-treated - of whom the world was not worthy - wandering over deserts and mountains and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had foreseen something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfection of our faith.
Jesus was the pioneer and perfection of our faith. We move up and down the line in our faith. The closer we get to Jesus the more we will be inflicted upon. The whole concept of the actual line is not so linear; however the battle lines are clear. Those who stand with Christ and accept Him as their Lord and Savior—WITH A SOLID AND PURE FAITH—will be saved. None of us will be close, but we need to struggle to get close to God. We need to sacrifice our lives and hearts to the One who can save our souls. We need to give up what chains us to the world and allow ourselves to find the path that God has set for us. In the end, those of us who are least in the world will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven. Those of who are last will be first.