Status Anxiety

Each time I see the peacock proudly displaying his tail to attract the attention of a peahen, I smile in recognition how we humans are often little better. The queue of young men and women standing outside a night club, the train of punters going to the Flemington racetrack for the Spring Racing Carnival or the person with the flash sports car driving down Lygon St, Carlton, are the expression by some to project their status in order to feel important (and probably noticed). Unsurprisingly, it occurs in all social gatherings, including the church. Jesus touched on this issue when he warned his disciples not to be overawed by the Pharisees and teachers of the law who projected their status to impress others and claimed the best seats in the synagogues (Mk 12:38-40; Lk 11:43). James bluntly warns his readers not to get sucked in by the crowd in fine clothes as it leads to discrimination (Jas 2:1-7). Some have expressed their status in the church by claiming to have a superior heritage, especially a religious one. Their superiority is supposed to give them more authority over everyone else. This occurred in the Philippian church where Jewish believers flaunted their status (Phil 3:1-14). What’s worse, they insisted that Greek Christians had to be circumcised to be a ‘true Christian’. Paul calls them ‘dogs and mutilators of the flesh’ (3:2). Paul responds to their claims by recounting his status, Jewish heritage and superior training – and declares them all ‘garbage’ (3:8). The loss of these as a believer in Christ – is now his gain. Knowing Christ, and the righteousness of Christ by faith, has given him a true status and riches which his Jewish heritage never gave him.

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