The Legacy basketball team played its last game of the season last night, giving up our one-point halftime lead and losing by eight. Of course, it was our first game since learning that we were losing Aaron later this month to some church team down in Houston. I’m not sure what we’re getting in return. Hopefully another strong 6′ 4′ post/forward with decent moves who comes with a Bunko playing wife and three adorable children. Probably just a couple of practice balls, though, and a dirty elbow pad.
I’m convinced that the temptation to jump off the roof of the temple was the temptation to do something that would gain a lot of attention, to do something that would appeal to the crowds and make Jesus an instant celebrity. Surviving a 460-foot jump, especially if everybody in the temple courts actually saw the angels lifting him up in their hands, would put Jesus in the tabloids and on the talk-show circuit.
The temptation to be important, to be seen as important, in the world’s eyes.
In our wishes to be accepted by the world, to be seen as relevant or even desirable in the world’s eyes, we’ll do some pretty silly things. We’ll do some very worldly things.
Colt McCoy, Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback for the Texas Longhorns! Jordan Shipley, award-winning wide receiver for the ‘Horns! And they’re both members of the Church of Christ! So we plaster them on the cover of Christian Chronicle and all our brotherhood newspapers and magazines. We talk about them in our sermons and at our lectures and seminars.
Graham Harrell, record-setting quarterback for Texas Tech! He’s not a member of the Church of Christ. He actually belongs to a community church just outside Lubbock. But his parents are Church of Christ! They raised him Church of Christ! So let’s talk about him, too!
How about senator / actor Fred Thompson? He’s running for president! Now, we don’t know if he’s Church of Christ or not, but he said his grandmother used to take him to a Church of Christ when he was a boy. So let’s promote him, too!
Find us an athlete or a politician or a millionaire, find us a celebrity the world thinks is important, and we’ll use him or her to show the world that we’re important. (For a group that claims to be non-denominational, this is quite hilarious.)
You know, we all want the organizations to which we belong to be successful. We want our clubs and groups to be important. We want to belong to a winner. That’s why you see so many Yankees baseball caps around the country. That’s why everybody rooted for the Chicago Bulls in the ’90s and the Lakers today. Our culture is eaten up with celebrity and money and status. And it can eat us up, too.
That’s why if I ever run into Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton at our neighborhood Target I’ll approach him and wonder how I can get him to our church. How can I get him to visit? How can I get him to our Small Group? Will he have dinner at our house on a Sunday night? Would he even consider it? Should I ask him?
Why don’t I have those same kinds of thoughts for the other 20,000 people I’ve met in North Richland Hills?
More than at any other time in this nation’s history, people are church-shopping. How big is your church? How important is your church? How wealthy is your church? Who goes to your church? How new is the carpet in your church? And those kinds of questions disgust us. But at the same time, we’re screaming to each other and shouting to the world from our own pinnacle, “Look at us! We’re important! These people you value, these rich and famous people, they’re Church of Christ! We’re viable and we’re desirable! Accept us! We matter! Pat Boone, remember? Church of Christ!”
Jesus says, “You’re the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men. What it highly valued among man is detestable in God’s sight” (Luke 16:15).
Paul nails it in his letter to the Christians in Corinth. That group was very concerned that they be accepted as big and important by society. And Paul sternly warns them, “Think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. Therefore, as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord'” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)
Jesus taught that a life like his, life in his steps, The Jesus Way, is one of rejection by the world, not acceptance. If the goal, the end, is to show them Christ, our medium, our means, have to be consistent with Christ. Or we’ll show them something else.
With apologies to Paul, Christ Jesus has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our value, our worth, our importance, our significance.