What’s Your Rank?

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As I have gone through my senior year of high school, I have also been going through a process of “rites of passage” that most, if not all, American teenagers go through at this stage. During this year, I have done several things that are meant to prepare me for graduation and for the next phase of my journey, from taking senior photos to applying for college to scholarship work. Recently, though, I encountered another of these events that was less of me doing something and more of me accepting what I had already done. This past week, our school handed out our “class rankings,” essentially telling each individual student where they stand in comparison to others of their graduating class based on GPA and other factors. I won’t bother telling you what ranking I received (I was pretty proud the day of, though), but receiving this number that was meant to indicate four years’ worth of work got me thinking. Is this the marker of what I have accomplished these past few years? Is this what I have come all of this way to receive? Is this what I’ve worked for?

In the Book of 1 Peter, the apostle is writing to the church at large, specifically the Jewish church, reminding the brethren of many of the spiritual teachings they have already been given and urging them to be founded on Christ alone. In the second chapter, he talks about the submission and humility that the church and its members should conduct themselves in and likens this to the submission and humility that Christ endured during the crucifixion. However, he makes one statement in the middle of this that is especially interesting because it seems to transcend this specific issue and mean much more. In 1 Peter 2:21, Peter writes, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps[.]” Did you catch that? This is the reason for the church’s submission, and for the church’s existence. This is why we are called to be humble, to love, and to be different. Because Christ suffered for US.

When I entered high school, I made a decision. It wasn’t really a conscious choice at the time, but it was a choice I’m glad I made looking back. I decided that I was going to commit myself to my studies, give it the best that I had, and work at everything that I did. I wasn’t looking forward to it, and I can say that there were some struggles along the way, even including a few days when I wasn’t sure I would make it. What I decided, though, was that at the end of the day, after everything I put myself through, the physical and mental benefits of the work I was doing were worth it. You could say that, among other things, I worked for the ranking that I ultimately received. What does it mean, then, that Jesus not only worked but suffered for us? It means that Jesus knew what kind of work His ministry on this earth would take. He knew what He had to leave behind, and He knew the burden of the cross and the spiritual and physical torment He would undergo to bear it. He counted the cost, and He wasn’t looking forward to it. Then, He considered why He would do it, and decided for some bizarre reason called love that we were worth it. He suffered for us because He cares about us that much.

We spend our time looking for a lot of things and working towards a lot of different goals. Regardless of what they might be, we put value in the things we want, and we’re willing to give up a lot for the things that we are working for. The message of the cross is contained in this fact: we are what God wanted, and He was willing to give it all for us. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what class ranking you get in school. It doesn’t matter how much money you have in the bank, or how many people of this world would call you a friend. It matters what your ranking is to God, and to Him, we are all first. He has proven it, too. Just look at what He gave for us.

“..looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” ~ Hebrews 12:2