There are some, possibly many, in this world that believe that there are only two types of people in the world – winners and losers. This isn’t new. This idea has spanned time and place. There is nothing special about this idea.
The draw, I suppose, to this way of thinking is that it is simple. You fall into one category or the other. There is no gray, no spectrum, no wiggle room, no possibilities – no thinking necessary. Just winners and losers. Supposedly.
The problem with this way of thinking is that in the end, we all lose. We all are losers at some point. Even those that were winners their entire life end up losing – because we all die.
Jesus had some thoughts about winners and losers too. He didn’t use those words exactly.
So the last will be first, and the first will be last.
(Matthew 20:16, NRSV)
Jesus spent time with outcasts all the time, the losers of his time. He spent time with people were of little value in his world or to the winners who ran his world. We might call these people losers.
The world declares those who are poor and poor in spirit as losers. The world declares those who mourn as losers. The world declares that the meek are pathetic losers. The world declares the hungry as losers. The world declares the merciful as suckers and losers. The world declares the pure in heart as losers. The world declares peacemakers as losers. The world declares those that are persecuted as losers.
And Jesus had a message for the losers of his world and for our time too:
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
(Matthew 5:1-12, NRSV)
As you read through the Beatitudes above, add a word – “Loser”.
It might sound something like this:
Blessed are the losers who are poor in spirit. Blessed are the losers who mourn. Blessed are the losers who are meek. Blessed are the losers who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Blessed are the losers who are merciful. Blessed are the losers who are pure in heart. Blessed are the losers who are peacemakers. Blessed are the losers who are persecuted.
There are those in this world, especially those in powerful positions, who think they get to define who the winners and the losers are.
But they don’t.
They are only here for a short time, and then they go away, most to be forgotten in history, rightfully so. Losers in their own right.
But God doesn’t forget. God remembers the losers of this world and cares for them and calls on us to care to. To love the losers. To show mercy to the losers. To forgive the losers. To make peace with the losers.
Because God did this for us – losers in our own right.
And so we go to the losers, because we are losers too. And Jesus offers blessings to us.
Forget what the world thinks is a winner and a loser. It will pass. God and God’s reign are eternal. The Kingdom of God is for the losers of this world.