In 1812, Lord Byron published the first two parts of his poem, Childe Harold Pilgrimage. He thought nothing of it, but it gave meteoric rise to his career. The reigning poet at the time was Sir Walter Scott, not too shabby of poet himself, however, after reading Childe Harold, Scott decided that he was no longer worthy to even write poetry and gave it up all together in favor of writing novels. There is a story—I’ll call it story because I couldn’t find a copy of the actual review—a story that says that following the publication of Childe Harold an anonymous critic, writing in a London paper, praised the poetic genius of Lord Byron and stated that Sir Walter Scott could no longer be called the leading poet. According to the story, it was later discovered that the author of that review was in fact Sir Walter Scott.
We have all been in some form of a competition and they are wide ranging. The obvious are things like sports and games, but we also compete for jobs, status, and even people’s affections, but have you ever been competing and suddenly realized that other person is the better? The more talented or suited for the job or the relationship and in realizing that, simply bowed out? Or even further, like Sir Walter Scott, have you ever bowed out while singing your opponent’s praises? There are some who might do that, but what if you were in fact the better person or match? Would you bow out and sing their praises then? I doubt any would do that. That would be… well, that would be the greatest becoming the least and that’s just silly. That said, I suspect God is OK with certain competitions (from what some of you say, He is an OSU fan), but what if we are talking about our opponent’s (a.k.a. our neighbor’s) standing before God? Their value in God’s eyes? Their value in our eyes? Or, put another way, what if we’re talking about their glory and their place in God’s Kingdom? Is it still a competition? Do we have an obligation to them? Or do we say, “As long as I get my mansion, I’m good. You’re on your own.” I’ve heard many different answers on this from Christians, but I like C.S. Lewis’ the best. From his sermon, The Weight of Glory:
“It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour…. It is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never met a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit.
“Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat —the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.”
Do you have an obligation for your neighbor’s glory? C.S. Lewis says, “Yes,” because within your neighbor is the very glory of God and we do have an obligation to see that glory of God manifested in them even if we must sacrifice ourselves. How do we do that? Jesus “got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.” If that is how your Lord and Teacher chose to make manifest the glory of his disciples, how will you? How will you do the same in your neighbor?