Matthew 20:16 “”So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Underdogs have no greater champion than Jesus. If you don’t believe me, just look at Luke 18.
Who did Jesus choose to illustrate the importance of persistent prayer? A vulnerable, helpless widow who was being treated unfairly. She relentlessly pursued the unjust judge until he finally responded to her request for justice. Jesus praised her tenacity and said when we pray, we should be like her (v. 1-8).
Who did Jesus choose to depict the virtue of humility? He described the prayers of two men. One self-righteous Pharisee and one lowly tax collector. If ever there was an underdog, the tax collector fit the bill, yet Jesus exalted him over the prideful Pharisee because of his humbleness (v. 9-14).
And who did Jesus choose to describe the type of people who belonged in the kingdom of God? Children. Not the accomplished, not the popular, not the ones who had it all together. Children. My goodness, even the disciples rebuked the children for coming to Jesus! But Jesus elevated them as models for kingdom seekers (v.15-17).
I grew up in southern Ohio, on the outskirts of Appalachia. Due to a combination of grants, scholarships and loans, I somehow made it to college. That’s when I realized, relatively speaking, I’d achieved “underdog” status. People would ask me to pronounce certain words just to hear my “hick” accent. One girl told me I was the most unsophisticated person she had ever met. But you know what, it didn’t bother me. In fact, I kind of wore my position like a badge of honor.
I look back and realize why. Although I was young in my faith, Jesus had laid a foundation of affirmation and acceptance in me that no one could strip away. I didn’t understand it at the time, but my confidence came from his approval, not others. It was enough to carry me through. Still is.
No one stands outside the love of Jesus. If you’ve ever felt like you’re on the outside looking in, be assured there is Someone on the outside of the crowd with you. He wants to elevate you as he does all who come to him. He wants to transform you into a champion.
We are underdogs no more!