In the kingdom of love there is no competition; there is no possessiveness or control. The more love you give away, the more love you will have. – John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Thirty-some years ago, while on a mission trip in the Philippines with my basketball team, I was given a visual lesson in loving those I considered to be a social strata below me.

We were traveling from town to town, sharing the Gospel, and playing basketball. As an American team, we usually won; so we got some great press time. I soaked up this fame because back in the States, I was kind of a scrub. But in the Philippines, I was one of the leading scorers! To be honest, I was getting a bit full of myself.

In the village of Boholon, there was a boy with leprosy. It was quite grotesque – parts of his body and face were missing. And as he walked down the street, everyone ran away from him. He was an untouchable.

One morning as I was having my quiet time, I heard my buddy Randy whisper to the boy, “Come, come.” And the boy, uncertain, walked toward him. When he was near enough, Randy reached out and grabbed the stubs that once were the boy’s hands, pulled the boy onto his lap, and gently rocked him back and forth.

“Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me…. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest. (Luke 9:48)

Winning is not associating with those above us in social standing. It’s not getting a bunch of press time for our success. It’s not running in the “right” social circles. Winning is welcoming those whom we consider to be below us.

It puts us in an awkward position of admitting that we categorize people as being above or below us. What a ridiculous way to distract ourselves from what Jesus wants to do through us.

Lord, am I the person who embraces the leper, or the person who embraces the spotlight? Can I be honest with myself? Either way, I thank You, for I know You love me regardless and You want to do something new and life-giving through me. You’ve welcomed me; now welcome others through me. Amen.