We’re Number 1! We’re Number 1!

by | Oct 11, 2023 | United | 0 comments

If you go to a sporting event, you might see some fans holding up a large foam hand with the index finger raised, as they shout, “We’re Number 1! We’re Number 1!” No, this doesn’t mean they’re pretending to be the Number 1 on a children’s television show. Fans who do this are saying that the team they’re rooting for is the best of all of the teams that play that sport (at least in their opinion).

Anyone who is unfamiliar with this practice might wonder why the chant is WE’RE Number 1. Since they’re referring to the team being the best, shouldn’t the chant be THEY’RE Number 1? Well, the fans typically feel like they’re part of the team, so if the team is the best, then, by extension, all of us who are fans are also the best. It’s all very exciting and actually builds camaraderie among the fans as they all unite in cheering for their team.

Now, what do you suppose would happen if one of the fans walked around with the foam hand and chanted, “I’m Number 1! I’m Number 1!”? This is actually quite a different message, having nothing to do with the team. If I’m chanting that, I’m saying that of all of the fans in the stadium, I’m the best. This won’t bring about camaraderie or unity — if anything, it will cause division, as I’m now competing against the other fans instead of being part of a single team with them. It would be so much better to just keep cheering for our great team together.

While walking on the road to Capernaum, the apostles of Jesus fall into a similar trap as described above, actually getting into an argument about which of them is the greatest (who’s Number 1?). When they arrive at the house where they will be spending the night, Jesus calls them out, asking them what they were arguing about while they were walking. The men are embarrassed to admit what the argument was about but, of course, Jesus already knows. (See Mark 9:33-34, Luke 9:46-47, Matthew 18:1).

To settle the argument, Jesus tells them all:

“If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)

Jesus is letting them (and us) know that the desire to be Number 1 is counterproductive to the cause. It brings about division, as we compete against each other rather than cheering for our great team—Team Jesus—and uniting against our common enemy. As an example of the proper attitude to have on this team, Jesus brings a little child into the midst of the group and says:

“Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:4)

So, while it’s true that many things that we do in life encourage our human tendency to want to be better than other people, let’s not let that approach creep into our participation in The Church of Jesus Christ. Being humble as a little child is the model for success in the kingdom of God, so whatever role we are called upon to fill in the Church, we need to remember that our purpose should be to exalt the name of Jesus Christ, not our own name.

If anyone tries to tell that you that you’re Number 1, make sure to give the credit to Jesus. He’s the true Number 1. Let’s just be thankful that we’re on His team, which we know is the winning team. Perhaps someday, we’ll all be shouting together, “We’re Number 1! We’re Number 1!”

This article has undergone ministry review and approval.

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