You know what happens when everyone gets his or her way?
You know what happens when people do everything in their power to succeed and follow their own individual agendas?
You know what happens when people only live for themselves?
War. Abortion. Divorce. Slavery. Murder. Assault. Rape. Racism. Poverty.
The speaker at the campus ministry I attend said this at our meeting the other night, and I’m really glad he did. Because it’s such a simple explanation for the brokenness in the world.
What happens when people act selfishly? A woman eats a forbidden fruit and her husband quickly follows suit, and they are eternally separated from God. Oops.
There’s a recent hashtag called #ShoutYourAbortion. I understand there are sometimes medical reasons for abortion, but I haven’t really formed an opinion about that, so I’m just going to talk about the explanations I saw trending today.
Most of them went something like this…
I wasn’t ready for kids.
Without kids, I can manage my own success. I regret nothing.
My life is more valuable than a potential life.
*So, again, this isn’t a post about abortion so don’t try to connect the next examples to it.
I wonder what a rapist would say after his conquest?
I just couldn’t wait for the right time.
I needed to take care of myself.
My satisfaction is more important than my victim’s life and future.
What about the slaveholder?
My life of fullness and happiness is more valuable than another potential life of fullness and happiness.
My husband or wife wasn’t good enough for me.
I’m superior. I’m better. I’m worth more than the people who are different from me.
My beliefs are far greater than anyone else’s. Only I deserve life.
I am king of the world. The safety of our country is more significant than the lives in… Hiroshima? Iraq?
I’m sure I’ve offended someone with the last one, but that doesn’t change anything. If you really look at the core of human history, I would argue that every bad thing, every disagreement, every war, every crime was done because someone felt entitled. Someone was being selfish. Someone wanted the best for him or herself and didn’t care who got hurt in the process of getting it.
But what if life isn’t actually about us?
What if it’s about God? What if it’s about bringing glory to a perfect Creator and the Savior that is Jesus? What would life look like?
Life would be perfect. Life would be living sacrificially for our neighbors. Life would be holy.
The Pharisees asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was, expecting Him to get tripped up. But, like always, He replied with the authority of God.
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:37-40
These commands are the opposite of selfishness. These are the opposite of living for your own happiness, well-being, or success. These commands are also not conditional. Jesus didn’t say “Love your neighbor as long as it doesn’t inconvenience you.” He said love your neighbor as yourself, and I’m willing to bet you love yourself quite a bit.
Because Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for us, by taking our sins and dying painfully on a cross, we’re expected to live as such.
You can argue with me and you can say this isn’t fair. But I think deep down you know it’s true. Imagine what the world would be like if we chose not to act out of selfish reasons and personal gain.
Imagine how selflessness could destroy the poverty issue in the world. Imagine how many people we could clothe, feed, and love on.
Imagine how selflessness could prevent sexual assault and rape (and thus prevent rape-based abortions).
Imagine how selflessness could save relationships and marriages.
Imagine how selflessness could mend race relations, gender relations, or class relations.
The idea that life isn’t about me is the best thing I’ve ever learned. It isn’t easy because, like you, I’m sinful and selfish, and selflessness is never my first plan of action. But it’s the right plan of action. And it’s the design for the world.