As Christians, I think we’re called to be losers.
Not just losers in an ethereal, self-sacrificial way. I mean losers in the middle-school jungle gym sense: chumps, saps, dweebs. Suckers for Jesus.
Which is frustrating, because we live in the land of winners. We have to win at everything, physically, economically, mentally, emotionally, ideologically. Be confident, they say, get what’s coming to you. Grab life by the balls.
Even our churches are dedicated to win. There’s the prosperity gospel, saying that a Christian life should result in a financially prosperous lifestyle…that God rewards you for a well-lived life with a well-furnished one.
Beyond the prosperity gospel, we still have a sense that we will win, because we’re on the right side. You may not be a millionaire, but you’ll get “riches” from the love of fellow Christians and knowing how many people you’ve brought to Christ. If nothing else, you can be happy because you know you’re right.
I think the authentic Christian life is mostly about being laughed at, losing arguments, and being taken advantage of. A life modeled after the biggest sucker of all time: Jesus.
In the history of the world, few people have been fucked over like Jesus. He’s the Son of God…should have had the world handed to him on a silver platter. Does he ask for it? No. He walks around for years preaching peace and love and good will toward men. And what does he get for his troubles? His friends abandoned and betrayed him, his people mocked him, and the world hung him up by railroad spikes through his wrists to bleed out for days while people spat on him.
It’s not like this all came as a surprise, either. A little earlier, in Matthew 26, he’s praying to God, his father, asking if there’s any way out of the whole bloody mess. There isn’t.
And he asks us to do the same. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
That’s not the only time Jesus tells us to be losers, either.
“Give everything you have to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven, then follow me.” (Luke 18:22, Mark 10:21)
“Blessed are you when people insult and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil about you.” (Matthew 5:11)
These come with the promise of reward in heaven, with emphasis on in heaven. It doesn’t say anything about reward on earth, while still alive. He doesn’t promise moments of victory while still alive. And I think we should stop telling people that he does.
I think we, as the church, should stop spreading the idea that God will immediately reward us for being compassionate or honest or polite. I think we need to be honest about how loving people and giving of yourself opens you up to being screwed over. I don’t think we should fear being taken advantage of…we should embrace it.
There’s happiness that comes from winning, but there’s also joy that comes from losing and not caring.
You can’t really be a good sheep if you don’t get the wool pulled over your eyes from time to time.