We live in an online world of instant, but fleeting fame. With the right 4-minute video going viral or a creative post people can become an overnight sensation. People can develop a rising online addiction to the number of “views” or “likes” that gives positive feelings of significance or importance.
We even see it on trips or vacations (I just returned from one). People used to define success or satisfaction based on the fond reflections and memories they carried as they came home from the trip. Now the definition of success or satisfaction can subtly be affected by the number of “likes” or “views” we get on the continual pictures we post. Was it a good vacation…yeah we had hundreds of likes on all our pictures!
No one wants to live their life anonymously (no one’s ultimate goal in life is for no one to know they exist). There is a God-designed element in us for significance but it must ultimately be rooted in Christ. We want to live our lives in such a way that people do see Jesus in and through us. We must be careful that we don’t confuse significance with current ideas of success.
Philippians 2:4-5 Don’t be concerned only about your own interests, but also be concerned about the interests of others. (5) Have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
A Platform or a Stage
People that genuinely begin to follow Jesus based on His amazing love and sacrifice start out with Christ-centered intentions and want to make Him known. These Christ-centered intentions can get sidetracked with just an ounce of success or admiration taken the wrong direction.
I have been thinking about the difference between the idea of a platform or a stage. A platform in its most Godly sense is a place of influence to communicate the goodness of God to others. It may be our talents, a job, a position, or something that gives us influence with others. It isn’t about making admirers or followers of us, but admirers and followers of Jesus.
A stage, on the other hand, can be more about the admiration of others and followers of us. It is a self-promotion that was the root of Satan’s original sin (Is 14:12-15). He has been tempting mankind with it ever since. C.S. Lewis, expressed it well in The Great Divorce, “Every poet and musician and artist, but for Grace, is drawn away from the love of the thing he tells, to the love of telling till, down in Deep Hell, they cannot be interested in God at all but only in what they say about him.”
C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, “Every poet and musician and artist, but for Grace, is drawn away from the love of the thing he tells, to the love of telling till, down in Deep Hell, they cannot be interested in God at all but only in what they say about him.”
Self-focus is Spiritually Dangerous
Anytime we get overly self-focused it leads to dangerous ground. A couple of years ago my wife and I were taking a boat tour on the River Walk in San Antonio, TX, when our guide told us something that was very culturally revealing, “12 people had to be rescued from the river this summer because they walked into the river while staring at their smartphones.” Another revealing statistic I recently came across was from research released by Carnegie Mellon University (releasing a report at the end of 2016 indicating that 127 people had died in the past few years taking selfies).
Using God-given platforms and avoiding them becoming a self-promoting stage can be greatly helped by the acid test for loving God which is genuinely caring about, and loving others. We all know His great love for us seen in John 3:16, but our love in return must be linked to the acid test of 1 John 3:16 “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” One of the ways we love God and others is to help them come into all that God intends for them.
If we are truly affected by John 3:16 it will be evident by obeying 1 John 3:16 “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
Myth of the “Self-Made Man
There is no such thing as a self-made man. Woven into the creation order is our need of others. Beginning with our conception and life in the womb we have a built in reliance on others to survive and succeed. Consider someone’s relational biography. Do your own. A relational biography describes people God has used to get others where they are today. If it is done in an objective manner we will be amazed how the influence of other people over the years has been essential to us getting where we are. People are the main source of supply God used in our lives (Eph 4:16, Col 2:19).
If you are a Christian, someone, or several someones, helped you get to the place you are in God. They brought the message of Christ to you, helped you develop a walk with Him, and provided instruction and example of how to live for Him. People continue to influence and aid us in our walk with God. They open doors to our destiny. It reminds me of a quote from the angel Clarence to George Bailey from my favorite movie It’s a Wonderful Life, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
All through the Scripture, we see examples of people coming into their destiny through relationships. People who cared about the success of someone else have always been God-given keys to people’s future in Him. Joshua had Moses, Ruth had Naomi, David had Jonathan, Elisha had Elijah, Jesus had Mary, Joseph, and John the Baptist, Paul had Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, Titus, as well as others, and they had Paul. The list goes on and on.
Instead of seeking a stage for your own personal advancement, or to gain admirers or followers, how about obeying 1 John 3:16 and helping someone else succeed in God. Seek a platform to influence others and help them into their destiny, not a stage to gain personal notoriety.
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