I’ve been told and I confess that I am a dreamer and idealist. All my life I’ve wanted to be great; I’ve wanted to leave a legacy of some sort; I’ve wanted my life to validate my being alive somehow—or I’d rather just not bother with it at all. I think we all have this need or desire to be great, to know we have mattered somehow. It’s manifested in different ways but we all have a need for our life to validate our existence in someway. Culture, religion, family and friends are all sending us messages about success and greatness, and much of the time they are mixed.
Culture tends to consciously or subconsciously condition us that to be great is to be rich, to be known, to be the next American Idol, or the next member of The OC cast or possibly Donald Trump. We are littered with the idea that greatness is the same as fame or riches or even being hip. Success is measured by money and material possessions. If I’m to be honest (and I am an honest guy), I have to admit that I subconsciously buy into that. I want to be known, I want to be made much of, I want people to recognize my face as I walk down the street, I want to have the cool stuff to validate myself.
Religion, at least modern Christian subculture, inadvertently tells us many of the same things. We want to be the next “big worship leader” or the cool new pastor with the cool new book or the televangelist with the cool new TV show (okay, nobody wants that, but you get the drift). Traditional religion and culture also give us a message, it’s a formula we’ve had mapped out to us in one-way or another about how we should operate our lives to be “successful.” We go to college, find the right job with the right pay and benefits, find the right spouse, have children and repeat. In between all that we should be moral “good-ole boys and girls” for that sake because that is what religion and older American society tell us. For the most part, family and friends buy into culture and religion and most believe as they are conditioned which only enforces those thoughts on you.
Christianity on the other hand, true Christianity, tells us something completely different. When you come to Jesus you are immediately validated and loved no more or no less, it does not depend on what you do or do not do. You can never do anything that will cause God to stop loving you and you can never do anything to cause Him to love you more, because He sees His son in your place. That is revolutionary and incomprehensible all at the same time. There are no more worldly or religious hoops for us to jump through, and that love gradually allows us to see greatness as it truly is. It looks like a woman selflessly feeding the poor, or a man mowing his neighbor’s lawn or a musician meticulously crafting a song until it is just right. We begin to equate greatness with doing all things for God’s glory, even whether we eat or drink. Greatness becomes not who you are or what you have, but who knows you and what He did and is doing through you.
[Seth lives in Texas.]