I like sports movies. I like the human drama — Joe Athlete who is talented but disadvantaged in some way overcomes the odds to reach victory. I like that the “games” you see are only the highlights and moments of big action; the defining moments. I like the excitement and intensity. I especially like it when they are based on true stories as so many of them are.
So it was with no great difficulty that I sat down to watch The Greatest Game Ever Played awhile back(Joe Athlete in this case is a very talented, very young, working class golfer who wins the U.S. Open in a time when only “gentlemen” played the game). One of my thoughts while watching was that it would be so neat to have an extraordinary talent and to know you needed to use it. To know that you were great at something, or even among the greatest at something. That would just be cool.
The very next day my Bible reading found me in Matthew 20 where Jesus’ disciples ask him about greatness. Jesus tells them that for anyone to become great he or she must be humbled as a servant. The day after that I was putting my oldest niece to bed and HER Bible reading was in Mark 9. Again, Jesus teaches his disciples about greatness stating that, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35, NASB).
What is great about the greatness that Jesus teaches is that it requires no talent. While he does admonish us to use the talents we’ve been given for his purpose and glory, the greatness he speaks of in the aforementioned passages is the result of humble, simple service. Foot-washing kind of stuff. It requires no special training or environment — it is attainable by anyone in any context.
I know what I put forward here is not a novel concept. It is one of those, Well, duh moments. I just think it is a good reminder for those of us living in a society that gives labels like “The Great One” to the Wayne Gretzky’s of the world. And while I think that talent like that of Wayne Gretzky’s is God-given and admiration of it is admiration of God’s creation (note I said admiration of Wayne’s talent, not Wayne), I also think it’s pretty cool that I can achieve greatness far greater than The Great One’s by humbly serving someone else.