Just before i was sent to the Middle East during Desert Storm, my commander met with my unit and to tell us what to expect. He finished by saying, “This isn’t a floor we stand on, its a frying pan and we are all in it.” What he was trying to say was that we had a hard road ahead of us and that no one was better than anyone else. The officers were going to face the same dangers as the unlisted men. No one was any better than anyone else.
This same message can be seen throughout the Bible. From the time Adam left the garden to the time Jesus healed the leper, we see that life is hard and no one has it easier than anyone else. We are all broken and we all face the same challenge - survival.
Romans 3:23 - for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
By understanding that everyone is struggling to become the person they were created to be, we can find comfort in knowing that we are not alone.
However, some have used this knowledge to try to lift their own status. They say things such as: “At least I am not as bad as...” They try to make themselves feel better by lowering the status of someone else.
Luke 18:9-14 - To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
The Pharisee was trying to gain ground with God by saying their was worse people in the world - but this failed in God’s eyes because to God it is not about what we do or don’t don’t do - it is about who we are becoming. An arrow that is shot an inch off the mark may be closer that an arrow that is a mile off the mark - but it is still a miss.
You may try to jump and touch the moon - and you may even climb to a high mountain so that you are closer to the moon, but in the end, you will never reach it because you are bound by the forces of gravity. In life, the forces of a broken and sinful world keep us from touching God - and it doesn’t matter how much effort you put into it.
The fact is - without a rocket, no one can touch the moon and without Jesus, no one can touch God — no matter how good you live your life.
When you understand this connection, you can start to understand true relationships - Love.
John Bradford, in the 16th Century, is credited with making a comment when he saw a group of prisoners. He said, “Therefore, but by the Grace of God go I” - meaning that if the circumstances of his life were different, he might have ended up a prisoner himself. He could not condemn or judge these men because he knew that they were no different than himself. Instead, he felt compassion for them.
Moses told the Israelites that the law commanded them to be kind to foreign people that lived in their country - because they had been foreign people living as slaves in Egypt. They knew what it was like to be treated badly - so they should do better.
Leviticus 19:34 - The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
We know what it is like to have a bad day and to get frustrated and to say things we didn’t really mean - so why should we hold it against someone else who is having a bad day, getting frustrated, and saying things we know they will regret? By realizing that people are trying - and sometimes failing - to find a way out of this frying pan, we can give them grace (something they don’t deserve - forgiveness, patience, and a second chance). And when we make this a part of how we treat others, they will often return the grace on us - creating peace in our worlds for a time.
This is discipleship.