Everybody wants to be somebody and these days you’re nobody unless your famous. At least that’s what our culture, and to some extent, our Christian culture is telling us. Unless you are famous, you don’t have the right to be heard. Or put differently, unless you are famous, we will not hear you. These messages, intentional or not, are the opposite of the gospel. They’re bad news. And they are false!
When we think of advent of the Good News, of Jesus Christ incarnate, we see that he chose to forego appearing to the VIPs of the age, at least initially. It was in his death that he had an audience with the rulers of this age. They wanted nothing to do with his life and message because it was so contrary to how they believed the world worked and how they believed God worked. When we consider this, we get an idea of how God rolls. He came into the world through Mary a poor peasant girl that no one would’ve respected because she became pregnant out of wedlock (at least, that’s how it appeared). Who was Mary? Now, we all know who she is. But back then, no one knew. Those of us who have the habit of dismissing and forsaking those we consider nobodies and courting those we perceive to be somebodies would’ve missed God’s appearance in our dismissal of her. We wouldn’t have believed it possible that the God of the universe, the one who made all things, would’ve come like that, born in stable in what some believe to be cave. And most of us would’ve heaped scorn on anyone who claimed that God had appeared to them as this tiny little babe, Jesus. We would’ve said the shepherds who saw the throng of angels were lying,that they were mad and making up stories in their small mindedness.
We need to stop worrying about whether or not we’ll achieve fame and success and care most about what God thinks of us, care most about loving others. Often this is done in obscurity. Loving is seldom practiced in front of the crowds. It is practiced at home and at work and in secret where there aren’t swarms of people cheering our every move. However, we can be sure that God sees every little thing. And we can be sure that who we are in secret will leak into the public.
You and me, we have to shun our propensity for seeking accolades. Receiving accolades shouldn’t motivate our thoughts and behavior. We’re not to be brown-nosers. IF accolades come, they come. If not, we keep on truckin’ ahead in the name of Jesus knowing that he is completely attentive to our lives and that not only will we be rewarded with brothers and sisters and so many graces in this life, but there will be much for us in the life to come.
Again, our priority is to love God and to love others. Not ideologically, but actually in our daily lives. We all know love when we see it and experience it. “I love you” is the hollowest and most odious of phrases when there are little to no actions supporting it. Love is action that speaks so loudly we can’t help but be drawn to it. Love is patient, love is kind, it is not self-serving, it isn’t rude, it thinks the best… (I Cor. 13). Love in this often dark, dog-eat-dog world stands in contrast to everything we see. It’s because love is other-referenced, considers others above itself and can be so rare in a world of self-absorption.
Loving God and loving others-on that we will be judged. On that hangs all of the law and prophets. And unfortunately, living love is more rare than it should be among Christians. Those who claim the name of Jesus can be some of the most unloving and self-absorbed people around. There’s a great gulf between what some of us profess and how we live. It is because we refuse to submit ourselves to the hard work of love. We don’t want to be humilated-humbled. Without love, we Christians are some of the most irritating and loathsome people on the planet. Even unbelievers expect those who claim to cloak themselves in Jesus Christ to be loving. And they should (see John 13:35). We can disagree with people and still be considered the most amiable of all. Pope Francis is one of the best public examples we have at this moment. And his public love is an outgrowth of the interior life he cultivates when not in the limelight.
God sees you and everything you do. He wants me and you to live our daily lives well. And we can live well through the power of his Holy Spirit within Christian community. How are you living today? How am I living today? Are we becoming more and more like Jesus? Do we live his love? That is what is precious in God’s sight. He doesn’t care how much money we have or don’t have, how many Twitter followers we have or we lack, how many people know who we are, how many books we’ve sold, or how popular we are.
What he cares about is if we look more and more like him (Romans 8:29), if we are loving like he loves. I see places in my life where I do not look like him. And I have asked Jesus to fill me and change me so I do look more like him and act like him. I am going to wait and see what he does. Changing to become more like him is always painful; it always involves death through submission to God, but it is a happy death that leads to life.