If you are like many folks these days, you will recognize the phrase: on your mark, get set, bake from the very popular show The Great British Baking Show.
My family has started watching it and we are in season 8 now. There are 10 seasons. It is fun watching these 12 or 13 amateur bakers compete by baking some amazing dishes. Each week they have three challenges to show off their baking skills. At the end of the show
1 baker is crowned the star baker, and one baker is sent home. We really enjoy this show.
Competing seems to be a way of life these days. We compete in school for the best grade, we compete in the marketplace to have the best product or service, and we compete in our community to have the best church in town.
There is nothing wrong with healthy competition. In fact it can motivate us to do our best effort and seek the greatest results.
Still, in the spiritual arena we are not really to compete with one another. Our spiritual selves defy quantification or measurement. One person doesn't have more faith or a greater faith or even a deeper faith than another. If we have faith we have all of God, as we are where we are. That means we have God with us as close as possible right now. God's presence is with us completely. I don't have more of God than you do. I don't have a better relationship with God than you do. I trust in God. I follow Christ. I have the totality of the Spirit of God dwelling in me.
We are simply faithful disciples of Christ.
Remember when the disciples competed with one another? What did Jesus say about that?
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
And in Mark 10:35-38 it says:
And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
They respond saying that they can do what Jesus asks, but then Jesus says to them It is not for me to say who will be at my right hand or left, for it is God the Father to give to whom it is prepared. Likewise, the rest of the disciples get mad at James and John for asking Jesus for a better position than the rest of them in the Kingdom of God. But Jesus tells them the following:
"... whoever would be great among you must be your servant and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
In the epistles we hear it Paul say to those the Christians in Rome:
So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads,[a] with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:5-10)
So, then we are to be quick to respond in love and compassion. We are to be quick to follow Christ. And we are to be quick to hold on to our faith in God.
In so doing we do not try to rise above one another, but rather live in the light and love of God. Living our lives not in a way of prideful arrogance or seeming superiority, but in our devotion to God and our witness to God's kingdom come near.