The title of today’s post is a phrase that has been made famous by a footballer – Mario Balotelli.
‘Super Mario’ as he is affectionately known is something of a character. On the football pitch he can be both magical and tragic. Of the pitch, there is an unending supply of stories and rumours about the mad things he has done. One of the more amusing stories is that the fire brigade had to be called to his home after fireworks were set off in his bathroom.
As you can imagine all of this eccentricity has led to some ‘rough-housing’ in the media. Thus, the famous celebration pictured below after he scored against Manchester United.
Why always me?
This kind of mentality is not unique to Mario Balotelli though.
It appears quite evident that all of humanity has a propensity toward this kind of mentality. We may not show it off like Balotelli, but underneath all of us are wearing a ‘Why Always Me?’ t-shirt.
A friend shared a blog post on Facebook just last week which exhibited this kind of mentality quite clearly. The post offered a collection of tweets where people complained about their first world problems.
These are just a few:
‘Had to wake up for the ironing lady to come and collect our clothes AND SHE STILL ISN’T HERE’
‘queue @sainsburys salad bar for 15 mins to find they had no egg OR giant cous cous. To say this has ruined Monday would be an understatement’
‘I have a papercut on my iPad finger. Every tweet is agony, but I persist bravely’
‘My wallet is too small’
These tweets are both funny and sad at the same time. Whether these people appreciate it or not, as they tweet they are joining Balotelli’s chorus, ‘why always me?’
Sadly, it seems to me that this is a problem among many Christians too.
Please don’t misunderstand me; there is most certainly a place for complaint in the Christian life. We need only to read the Psalms and see that (although there we call it lament). The psalmist can cry out to God ‘How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?’ (Ps. 13:1) and there is no indication that he is sinning. Rather, the psalmist is teaching God’s people to cast all their burdens on their heavenly Father (1 Peter 5:7).
However, often Christians lament their ‘Christian-first-world’ problems. They are embarrassed on Monday mornings telling people they spent their weekend at church. They plead with God that they wouldn’t be asked what their position on homosexuality is. They avoid the token office atheist at all costs. They keep their head down and ensure as far as possible that being a Christian has no detrimental effect on their social standing (as judged by others).
I am as guilty of this as the next person – I don’t want to be ridiculed, mocked or suffer because I am a Christian.
However, I was challenged by my daily readings recently as I read through the book of Acts. The Apostles, by the power of the Spirit, are continuing the work that Jesus began in his earthly ministry. As they preach the gospel they are arrested. They are released, preach again and consequently arrested again. At the end of chapter 5 the Apostles are arrested, beaten and charged not to preach the gospel.
If you were one of those Apostles how you would feel leaving the court that morning? Angry, deflated, scared? Well, these Apostles were delighted and encouraged. Here is what Luke records about how they felt:
Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the name. (Acts 5:41 ESV)
They rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the name.
What a challenge for us – as Christians we are worthy to be ridiculed for getting up early on a Sunday and heading to a building full of people singing, praying and preaching. We are worthy to be mocked for our ‘puritanical’ views on sexuality. We are worthy to suffer at the hands of those who hate God and his children. We are worthy because we are Christ’s.
Jesus’ dealing with our sin by taking the punishment on the cross has made us his brothers and sisters. We have been adopted into the family of God. We have a heavenly father, a divine brother and through the work of the Spirit bear a family resemblance. We are worthy because Christ has won us for himself.
Therefore, we should rejoice as we suffer shame for the name. No longer should we cry ‘why always me?’