Why is it that when people trip or fall down we instinctively want to laugh? It is what makes shows like Wipeout and America's Funniest Home Video's such a hit. We love to laugh at others who fall on their face. The interesting thing about this, is that we as the viewer can almost tell immediately what is about to happen even before it does. We can see the writing on the wall, so to speak, as someone furiously rides their bike toward a ramp or is about to dive off of a diving board, or someone playing baseball with their kid (yep, we all know what is about to happen in that video)It's almost as if we are prophets and we are yelling at the TV, "watch out", or "move out of the way", or "don't do it". And yet they always do. Why is that?
In many of those cases, it is a very simply axiom from scripture that proves time and time again to be true, and it is often the reason that each of us can see what is about to happen even before it does.
"Pride comes before the fall"
In the book of Esther, Haman was a man who saw the world as revolving around him. Just as many people do today, he assumed that every situation was directly related to him and that all people ever thought about when he was around, was him. He thought this so much that he became extremely irked when others didn't take particular notice of his presence in the way that he thought that they should.
In Esther chp 5 we have Haman boasting about his great wealth and his position within the kingdom. He is very arrogant and proud about the fact that he is connected with the "right" people and loves the attention that comes with it. He is very excited about the fact that he gets to wine and dine with royalty and wants to make sure every one knows it.
If we put that into today's context he would be one of the wealthiest most well connected people in our country, and one who regularly has opportunities to dine with the president. Probably Hollywood elite. We would look at him from the culture's standpoint and say, "He has everything. If only I could know half as many people as he does or be as wealthy as him I would be happy." This is what we idealize. This is what we are chasing as a people and a culture.
We want to all be the star of our own life and we want people to look at us and what we are doing and what we are wearing and who we are talking to and who we are having dinner with. We want the world to revolve around us and most of the time we don't even realize that we are living this way.
One of the fastest growing phenomenons in our culture today is "the selfie". People are obsessed with taking pictures of themselves, with their phones, and posting them on facebook, twitter, instagram, google+, or any other social media outlet that they can, in order to be seen. We desperately want to be seen; to be noticed; to be acknowledged. And no matter what is posted, or tweeted, something seems to be missing. People are desperate to feel that they matter and that they are seen.
Haman was no different in his time and not different of anyone who views themselves as the center of the world. As we read in yesterday's reading Haman was furious in chapter 3 because Mordecai did not pay him honor and notice him, he did not kneel before him and give him the respect that he thought he deserved.
Here in today's reading, chapter 5, Haman, despite having all this wealth, special banquets in his honor, and the kings ear, is unsatisfied because Mordecai is still sitting at the kings gate. He has the world on a string and yet it means nothing to him. He is blinded by his arrogance and pride, and as many of you who know the story, his fall is quickly approaching. The very gallows that he has built in chapter 5 to hang Mordecai on becomes the means for his own death in chapter 7.
And almost to add an exclamation point to Haman's self centered arrogance and pride, the writer of Esther tells the story of Haman assuming the king is talking about him when he asks what should be done for the person the king delights in in chapter 6. Haman assumes that the only person he could possibly be talking about was himself and so he gave an answer that would have put an even bigger spotlight on himself in the eyes of the public. All he could see was more people looking at him. He never once thought about turning his gaze from the man in mirror toward others
There are so many wonderful points that could be made from the story of Esther. But today think about your own life and ask yourself, are there any characteristics of Haman's life that I have allowed to take root in my own? Haman's pride and self absorbed nature led to his own demise. Is it leading to yours?
An attitude like Hamans is one that is always looking for ways to tear others down so that we in turn can be lifted up. It is one where we take any measuer possible to make sure we are seen and that others are only in the periphery. But this is not the message of Christianity. Jesus made it simple and abundantly clear:
LOVE GOD, LOVE OTHERS.
We should always take the bronze medal in this race called life. Christ told the pharisees that the greatest commandment was to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all you mind and with all you strength. And then he followed it up with this: "The second is like it, Love your neighbor as yourself." There's never been room for Selfie's in the kingdom of God.
Ask yourself. Am I more focused on what others may think about me and my need to be seen or do I find that I am more focused on others and how God wants me to see them? Am I more interested in my "selfie" portrait or am I looking for God's portrait?