Once upon a time there was a popular television reality show that came to Shanghai. A film crew came to secretly record ten randomly selected contestants around the clock to crown the Greatest Person in China.
The prize was a lifetime of riches and comfort. Some of the contestants would preen before the cameras, talking about their successes and spending a lot of money trying to make themselves look good. The competition was fierce! But one of the contestants was different than the rest.
He stopped his scheduled interview with the host to care for one of the production assistants, who’d fallen ill with food poisoning after eating questionable street food. He was repeatedly filmed on the way to work slipping his own lunch to an injured man on his street who had lost his job. One night while waiting for the bus on a particularly cold evening, he noticed an elderly man who had no coat at all, and he quietly slipped his own coat over the old man’s frail shoulders.
Finally the night came to announce the winner, live on television. It was a dark and stormy night, and on the way to the competition, the man came across a woman lying in the road, wet and dirty and injured, after her scooter hit a large puddle and slid out from under her.
Worried she might be hit by a car, he helped her out of the road and called for help, not leaving her side until someone arrived to care for her. He finally arrived at the television studio, only to find the footage of all his small acts of kindness being played back. The host of the reality show declared him the winner, the Greatest Person in China.
The other contestants were angry, shouting, “How were we supposed to know you’d be judging us on what we did for others! We thought you wanted to see all the great things we’ve done in our careers! What about the accolades and prizes we’ve won!”
They were all ushered out of the studio, forever ashamed of their rude and prideful ways which had been on display throughout the world on the television show.
They learned that in the end, true greatness lies in helping those whose needs are greater than our own.
Looking for more? Listen to the audio for the sermon “Sheep & Goats” here.
Story imagined by Heather Rose Chase
Header images designed by Dean Liaw