This evening I’m getting together with some students to have a Halo night. Even though many games have come and gone, the popularity of Halo and its sequels continues to persist.
The popularity of the game is based on its multiplayer component. Players can play online or gather with their friends. It’s easy to lose hours playing the game, trying to get as many kills as possible while helping your team win. While it’s nice to get a team win, the main focus for most players is on individual statistics; if I can get 20 kills and only 10 deaths, who really cares if my teams loses?
That kind of “me first” attitude is all right in the world of video games; nothing of value hinges on whether or not one team or another loses. In the real world, though, that kind of attitude clearly goes against Jesus’ desire for our lives. In our culture it’s all too easy to focus on ourselves, on what we can get, instead of focusing on the needs of others.
Jesus calls us to place the needs of others above our own because it is the best way to live. If everyone on the planet placed the needs of others above their own, then the needs of every person would be met.
My marriage works because of this equation. I place the needs of Alycia, my wife, above my own. In turn, Alycia places my needs above her own. Our relationship works because both of us are focusing on the needs of the other; it’s balanced. Should either of us stop looking out for the other, though, the relationship will be out of balance.
Unfortunately that’s what we see in our world today: imbalance.
Whether it’s in Halo or the distribution of food, a lot of people are far more concerned about their own needs than the needs of others. We’re trapped in a theology of scarcity that says we need to get and hold onto as much as we possibly can even if that means ignoring the needs of others. We’re out of balance and so there’s literally a world full of people whose needs aren’t being met.
If we’re followers of Jesus we need to root out the attitudes that lead to this imbalance. We need to examine our own hearts and our own attitudes to ensure that we’re not contributing to this imbalance. We need to begin with our relationships, the people we see on a regular basis. We need to strive to place their needs above our own and seek out opportunities to do so. We also need to look beyond our friends and family to find opportunities to focus on needs of people that we don’t even know.
And tonight I’m going to start with Halo. I will place the needs of my teammates above my own…unless one of them kills me.
What helps you place the needs of others above your own?