By Jeff Martin
While individual value was critical to the breakout of Christianity in its infancy, the multitude of ways for people to access the projected lives of other people today through social and broadcast media have released the crippling disease of comparison on the masses. The symptoms of this devastating disease are easy to detect:
- Doubt: Compared to how awesome everyone else is, what do I possibly have to offer? What difference can I make?
- Fear: Compared to how awesome everyone else is, what if I try to be awesome and fail?
- Acceptance: Compared to how awesome everyone else is, I will never be that awesome. That is my lot in life.
The Bible is full of epic stories of thrilling victories and devastating defeats. One of those stories chronicles the release of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt.
Their leader, Moses, leads them on an amazing, harrowing journey toward a new land flowing with milk and honey. Along the way, they got a front-row seat to the awesome power of God to deliver them and provide for their every need. He walked them directly out of institutional slavery after the plagues
He released on the nation of Egypt. He defeated the entire Egyptian army hot on their heels by drowning them in a sea He had just split in half so the defenseless Hebrews could walk through untouched. He literally guided them along the way, appearing among them in the form of a pillar of fire at night and a cloud by day.
When they got hungry out in the desert, no problem. He dropped meat out of the sky in the form of delicious quail flying directly into their camp each and every day. I’ve hunted quail before, but this was different. The quail hunted them! What chef would provide meat without some mouthwatering bread?
Manna bread would form on the ground each and every day ready to be paired and plated for a delightful presentation that would make the producers of the Food Network envious. The availability of water is paramount to any living organism surviving in the searing heat of the desert. God simply split a rock and out came cold, pure water flowing to His people and animals headed to the land He promised them.
If you don’t get the picture yet, it should start to become clear. God is awesome. He had chosen this group of people out of all the people in the world to be major characters in His redemptive story. The story starts at creation and the fall, moves toward the coming of Jesus Christ as Messiah and ends with a grand finale curtain call featuring Satan and his followers thrown into hell and the followers of Jesus living together in heaven forever.
The chosen people of God should have been full of momentum and confidence in the awesomeness of God. He chose them! He had placed great value on them. Not because they were awesome, but because they were created in His image and He already loved them. He didn’t need them to be awesome.
In contrast to their awesome God, every one of them was incredibly ordinary. There was great freedom in that fact. They didn’t have to be awesome; they simply needed to be obedient. Therein lay their value.
But that is not what happened. As soon as their toes got to the edge of the promised land and they sent their spies out to get a simple assessment of the land God had already given them, something curious occurred. The report came back describing large people and large fortified cities.
With their recent experiences of the awesomeness of God fresh in their minds, you would think that they would have responded to the report with, “Yeah, so what?” and confidently marched into the land. But what should have been their natural movement was hindered.
You see, that is what a crippling disease does. It slows or removes the ability for natural movement. When they focused solely on the size of the people and fortifications, the crippling disease of comparison swept through the camp.
They lost sight of how incredibly valuable they were because they were ordinary, and their God was extraordinary. This disease guided them back to their former slavery mindset, marked by seeing little to no value in themselves, destined to a life void of epic victory stories against overwhelming odds.
The crippling disease of comparison will still allow you to be somewhat active, but not at the healthy level for which you were created.
Jesus is no stranger to crippling diseases. He was famous for healing people to display His divine power and prove that He was indeed the son of God. He healed people who couldn’t walk, who couldn’t see, those who were sick and even dead!
The key thing to understand here is that when Jesus intersected with people who were crippled by some form of disease or physical need and healed them, He did not make them into some awesome superhuman specimen, He simply restored their bodies back to their normal function. He made them ordinary. Once they became ordinary, many of them would immediately join the movement of God, helping it to become known as a movement that was “turning the world upside down.”
The doubt of what they had to offer dissipated. The fear was gone, they were ordinary, and that was awesome! They no longer had to accept their limited lot in life; they were now whole, and they wanted to tell everyone who would listen all about it.
Great movements that change things are not borne on the back of awesome; they are borne on the back of ordinary.
The good news if you have the symptoms of the crippling disease of comparison is this: There is a prescription. And it’s simple. Stop comparing.
JEFF MARTIN is a Fellowship of Christian Athletes executive director and founder of Fields of Faith. This article is excerpted from Empower: The 4 Keys to Leading a Volunteer Movement with permission from B&H Publishing.