In his new book about important shifts in Australian culture, entitled The Lucky Culture, Nick Cater writes about the Australian view of class and merit. Before (say, pre-1970s) Australia was a society structured by merit and individual ability. It was a relatively united meritocracy. Cater notes that our culture is now divided along class lines, but not in the Marxian paradigm of workers and bosses (or “labour and capital”). He writes, “There has always been divisions in Australia … but this was of a different order. For the first time there were people who did not simply feel better off but better than their fellow Australians.” (p. 6)
Cater describes a society divided, no longer by merit and lack of merit, but by moral superiority and inferiority. He longs for the older ethic of the meritocracy, where people did not consider themselves better than others, but merely better off. However, the Christian ethic is even more radical than that.
In Philippians 2:3, Paul tells the church in Philippi to “do nothing from rivalry or conceit” but to “consider others as more significant than yourselves.” This could be rendered as “consider others better than yourselves.” The radical nature of Christianity can be seen in this reverse meritocracy, where others are by default better than me. Indeed, this is the “mind” we are to have “among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5) In Christ, we live in a reverse meritocracy.
Of course, it is not literally the case that others are actually better. All believers wear the righteousness of Christ, and not our own. If we start to wear our own, we will begin to think of ourselves as better than others, and we fall into the trap of modern Australia. However, we are to consider others as better, not because others are actually better, but because if we strive for this we imitate our Lord Jesus. (Philippians 2:6-8) He is most obviously not less than anyone else, for He is the eternal God. Yet, he humbled himself “even to the point of death.”
Consider others better than yourselves, and you are displaying the glorious mind of Christ.