Deadly ambition

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

– Matthew 5:3-9, (NIV), from the Sermon on the Mount

An ambitious and ego-driven man with power is a very dangerous man. Vladimir Putin is killing Ukrainians because he has some demented dream about making Russia great again. Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler: all were driven by ego-maniacal ambitions that left millions dead, and tens of millions suffering and in bondage.

Some people are shocked that another war has begun. The thinking is, apparently, that we’re too globally inter-dependent and sophisticated to think bombs and armies can make the world a better place. Modern western nations have been reducing their armed forces for decades in the belief that war has become unthinkable.

And then a man arises who is convinced of his own greatness, certain of the righteousness of his cause, and who is unmoored from any morality bigger than himself. Cities are once again in flames.

It’s been faddish lately to condemn this sort of behavior as “toxic masculinity.” It’s true that most of the headline-grabbing atrocities committed in history were led by men, but by focusing on a theory about out-of-control testosterone, we miss the real human defect that causes so much human misery, whether on the level of countries fighting countries or individuals warring against other individuals.

We are born ambitious, we are born with unchained egos, we are born with a desire to be kings and queens, princes and princesses, and it is only by discovering the power of self-sacrificing love, humility, meekness, and kindness that those aggressive and demanding powers within us can be tamed.

And in what world does love and humility become powerful enough to topple the reign of an ambitious and self-serving ego? In a world where Jesus Christ is made Lord and ruler of our hearts and minds and ambitions and desires.

The human ambitions that lead to fights among neighbors and co-workers, feuds among family and friends, wars among nations can only be tamed – healed –, one person at a time, one heart at a time, one ego at a time, by listening to and following the one who was called the Son of God, Jesus.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

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