In today's world, it's all about me . . . and it's all about you. It's all about what we want and what we need and what we'll do to get it. While game shows demonstrate how to wheel and deal our way to financial freedom, reality TV delivers a one-two punch of alliances and backstabbing. It's done in the name of entertainment, but if we're honest, we all secretly dream of being the top dog. Numero uno. The big cheese.
Well, I hate to brag, but, well, I've been number one, and . . .let me tell you . . . it feels good! When I was ten years old, I won first place in the 4-H Talent Show for my rendition of the song, "Side-by-Side." My partner, an upside-down broom with a construction paper face, shared the spotlight. We won ten dollars together. It was a heady experience, and I was hooked.
But my number one status was soon forgotten and I had to find a way to recapture my position. Although I absolutely hated country music, I understood the need to sacrifice for my art. (Sounds so much better than compromising for my goal!) So I borrowed a guitar, took some lessons, and learned a few chords. Before long, I was a regular on the Ben Leonard Show every Saturday morning at 7am (Yes, there really is a 7AM on Saturday morning!). Decked out in a brown cowgirl hat and matching vest, I strummed the borrowed guitar and sang about broken hearts and hound dogs.
It was the peak of my musical career. Within months, the world's infatuation with a miniature Loretta Lynn wannabe was over (well, at least the infatuation of all eleven viewers who were awake at 7am on Saturday morning–including the five members of my own family). There I was, a musical has-been at the tender age of twelve.
But the point is, even as a pre-teen, I was willing to do almost anything to be Number One in my little corner of the world. It didn't matter that I didn't like country music. The important thing was, I liked the position. I liked the praise.
I wasn't alone.
Since the beginning of time, mankind has been fighting for position and praise. Yes, we all hope to be the big shot at some point in our lives. And it begins long before we're adults. Just spend a few minutes in the church nursery and you'll see the evidence of our collective self-centeredness. Without any training whatsoever, toddlers know how to build alliances and backstab their way to what they want–and they'll fight and bite to get it. As kids, we push and shove and try to garner the number one slot.
Then finally, we grow up . . . and common sense tells us if we don't look out for ourselves, who will?
That's the opposite of what Jesus says.
Satan delights in this all-consuming sense of self-because he led the way.
Our first introduction to this devil of deception is in the garden. And the scary part is, before he ever met Eve, he knew her. He already knew what it would take to deceive her. He knew he didn't need to orchestrate an elaborate presentation, he simply had to introduce confusion through doubt.
He smiles at his little ingénue. "Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?'"
It didn't take long for Eve to dance around the truth and come up with her own variation of reality. But the bottom line is, Satan formulated a lie and introduced doubt into the picture. And then he took the next step, he accessed her innate sense of self-promotion: "You will not surely die . . . you will be like God . . . ."
Yes, the Father of Lies came up with the Mother of All Lies: "You can be right up there with God. You can be Number One."
Writer-friends, listen–just like Satan knew Eve, he knows us! He knows us and he's selling us a lie. One that says our worth is in direct proportion to our position!
And Satan's lie feeds our self-centered focus.
But Jesus tells us the truth. And His truth says we become "more" only when we become "less." In Mark 10, beginning with verse 32, Jesus is walking with His disciples on the way to Jerusalem for the Triumphant Entry. He has just told them–yet again–that He will soon die. But this time He tells them more. He tells them that He'll not only die, but He'll be mocked, spat upon, and flogged prior to His painful, humiliating death. Oh, I can't imagine how hard it must have been for our Lord to share the heartrending details of His upcoming death!
But even though the disciples had heard the message before, they still didn't get it. In Mark 10:35 James and John respond to Jesus' painful report by asking (and I paraphrase), "Yeah, okay, well, listen, Jesus, we've got something we want to ask You."
How sad. There was Jesus, pouring His heart out to those who were supposed to love Him, who were supposed to be devoted to Him . . . and they didn't seem to care. But Jesus doesn't reprimand them. Instead, He simply asks, "What do you want me to do for you?"
James and John continue their self-centered request. "Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory." In other words, "Can we be the big cheese with you? Can we be the top dogs, too?"
Oh, how their words must have hurt Him! He was preparing them for the worst, and all they wanted was the best. The best for themselves.
I can just imagine the disappointment in His eyes as He releases a sorrowful sigh. His shoulders droop and His head slowly shakes back and forth. "You don't know what you are asking."
Then, as the other disciples gather around, He says this (and again, I paraphrase): "If you really want to be number one, you have to become nothing. If you really want to be first, you have to be a servant. Just like Me. I didn't come to be number one, I came to die . . . for you."
Oh, friends, that brings tears to my eyes! He is God in the Flesh! He is our Mighty Warrior, our Prince of Peace, and the Savior of the world!
Why are we fighting for position and praise? Why are we trying to be number one when the only Number One of all time became Nothing . . . for us?
As followers of Christ, we must take on the mind of Christ. And in order to have the mind of Christ, we must become servants. We must take off the royal robes and put on the slaves' rags.
People need to see Jesus in action, and if we're willing to serve, they'll
be able to see Him . . . in us.
What can we do in our writing lives to be the hands and feet . . . . in order to share the heart and mind of Christ?
(Photos courtesy of ChristianPhotos.net)
Speaking of Hearts…
My new friend, David Hollar, sent me this link to a powerful video, The Parable of the Heart. I sat at my computer and cried. Do we have the heart of Jesus? Do we really?
Call for Kudos!
Hey, writers–it's that time again. Time to celebrate God's blessings in your writing and speaking life. So if you've had a recent publication, received a new contract, gotten a new website, or any other writing or speaking achievements, please email me and I'll share the good news next week!
IMPORTANT: Please include your name, your state, your good news, and any links to the publication and/or your website. Thanks!
And the Winner of Deb Dunn's Book, Stupid About Men Is…
Lynn N! Congratulations! Now Lynn, just email me with your mailing address and the book will be on its way to you!
IMPORTANT FOLLOW-UP: Deb has taken to the time to address some of your comments and questions about romance at her website. Here you can read her excellent advice on how to deal with some of the difficult issues of life.
Thanks again, Deb!
And now, as we continue our journey as writers of Truth, let's consider this: Are we seeking to glorify Him, or ourselves? If we're honest, we have to admit it's a constant battle, isn't it? Oh, that we'll be focused on seeking to serve Him! We can do that by following these simple words, said by John the Baptist:
He must become greater; I must become less. John 3:30
Let's work hard…to become less.
I pray God's blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,
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