Several days ago, we talked about our deep inner need to have an identity – something for which we are known, something that makes us significant in this life.
But there is a problem.
So many times, we as Christians fall into the same trap as everyone else. We are wanting to be somebody. Someone that people look up to. Someone they admire. Someone they want to emulate… Somebody important.
This desire can lead us into becoming the focus of attention, not God. When we are longing to be important, and have others recognize our importance, we measure our value by how others see us and recognize us. If they don’t see us as important, we become sullen… maybe even angry.
Do you see what is happening here? We are claiming that our lives are all about God… but, they are actually all about ourselves. Our recognition. Our importance. Our significance. Our names being cherished and exalted… Not His.
Our identity becomes tied to human acceptance. Our importance is tied to human recognition. And we can become just as self-centered about our Christian worth as we were when we were living for ourselves.
This was the problem with the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. All their righteous behavior was to gain the adulation of men. Jesus identified, and condemned their focus.
It is all too easy to start out on the right path with God and, eventually, become sidetracked – onto a path that has all the appearance of Godliness, without the real Presence of God! We cannot afford to fall into this same trap.
So if these things are the wrong identity… what is the right one?
Jesus tells us: “Whoever wants to be first (the most significant) must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.” (Mark 9:35)
These are not just words to be heeded… Jesus also walked the talk. In another place, He reminded the disciples: “I am among you as the One who serves.” (Lk. 22:27)
Serving others, in our culture, gets a bad rap. We don’t want anyone “lording over us.” Using us. Forcing us to do things we don’t want to do. In many ways, we would rather die than be anyone’s servant.
But the very essence of the Kingdom of God resides in a servant’s heart. What is more, God comes nearest to those who humbly bow to serve others in need.
In short, the most Significant Person ever… draws near to those who live a life of giving themselves for others. We give of our selves – and God gives us… Himself.
Our spirits actually long for the Presence of God – and those who practice a life of serving, actually find His abiding Presence in their everyday lives.
Jesus said: “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” (Luke 9:24) It is fascinating to me, that when we seek to gain our own significance we will never really find it… but when we lose our desire for our own significance (so we can better love God and serve others) we actually gain what we were never seeking. True significance… as the God of ultimate significance lavishes His love upon us… and loves the world, through us.
The identity we seek does not make us somebody… it makes God everything – and places us in the proper position to be a permanent vessel of His amazing love and grace.
Prayer Focus: God, make me aware when I am trying to seek my own importance… and let my heart focus upon making You important, through my life.