Wednesday, January 8, 2020
How Important Am I?
In the Gospel, Jesus says “of all the children born of woman, a greater than John the Baptist has (the world) never seen (Mt 11:11).” Yet, John the Baptist says: “I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of His (Jesus’) sandals.” Is there a disconnect here? Jesus/God says John is great; John describes himself as being less than a slave.
These two men paint a confusing picture of John’s importance, and it give me pause to consider: relatively speaking, just how important am I?
It seems to me that people today, our culture, teach that each person should say: “I am important, most important.” John says he was less than a slave, but our culture chastises anyone who would speak of slaves, treat others as slaves, or accept being treated as slaves. What would they say about John’s self-appraisal? Mentally-challenged? Senile? Or, in an area where it is allowed, would he be encouraged to choose suicide? Or, perhaps some Christians would say they are just agreeing with what Jesus said, when they say that John is much more important than he thinks?
I sometimes ponder the meaning of MY life: why am I here? In my readings and studies, I’ve come to agree with philosophers and theologians who say that I am not just a random clump of clay. I am uniquely born/created; I have a unique fit --- like no other person – in this world. And, whether I wish to or not, by my very existence I DO influence other people in some way. Since I have a God-given freedom, I choose to do that influencing in a positive way, as much as I can. I choose to make a positive difference in this world. So why did John seem to value so little his purpose, the difference he made in this world?
John knew that he was not God, Creator of all things, Who existed forever. John also knew, however, that he was not like the man Jesus Christ, God come to earth. Relative to Jesus, HIS value and HIS purpose, John knew he was miniscule, and it was in this comparison to Jesus that John said he was nothing. But Jesus/God loved John immensely. He created John for a very important purpose, and John fulfilled that purpose perfectly. So, Jesus highly exalted John.
And this is where the culture’s value of a person differs.
God loves all people with the love of a Father; He created them. They all fit in His plan for creation, His artistic masterpiece (as I view it), and each uniquely fits into the whole. Yet, some are more noticed or critical to the big picture, while most merely blend in with the areas surrounding them. Oh, the blending is important and it can influence how the surrounding areas are perceived, but sometimes it is something so small only the Artist would notice and be concerned about, how things turn out versus what He intended. God, Creator, Artist, can provide some people with more talents, and then expect more from them --- a more prominent place in the picture --- and only He is the ultimate judge of how well the picture comes together. If people fail, if they sin, it is He Who is sinned against and judges that sin. Only the Creator can judge His creation.
The culture today, however, says: “No, I will judge. I will decide what the picture should look like. I will decide what is sin. I will decide who is important.” These people may have good intentions, but they cannot see creation with the mind of God. God gave the commandments and then His Son to show mankind how to become as God intended, to grow in holiness, to grow in love, to be with God, to fulfill their purpose in His masterpiece of creation. But the culture today seems to reject God’s (unknown) purpose for creation, and reject His gifts to help us achieve that purpose. The culture seems fixated on God as a slave-holder dictator figure, rather than Father or Good Shepherd figure. It may recognize God as creator, but gives the creator no authority whatsoever over His creation. Similar to the Garden of Eden, mankind now says: “Here’s what I want and want to be. Here’s how I’ll do it. Here is how I define love and the purpose of mankind and of me.” The culture speaks as if it were god, rejecting the real God.
So, back to the basic question: How important am I? The answer lies in first asking: Who do I want to be important to? Is it the culture, the world, or God? I said I wished to use my life to influence people in a positive way, to make a difference in this world --- but, in whose opinion? Do I value what the world thinks of me and my actions --- are they “politically correct” --- or do I value what God thinks of me and my actions --- are they morally, eternally correct? Are they loving actions, as Jesus showed us how to love? Am I being who He made me to be?
I choose to be important in God’s eyes, even if my role in creation is just some small shadow in a tiny corner of the picture He alone sees. I want Him to be pleased with my use of the talents He gave me, maximizing my fit into His picture and helping others find and achieve fully their roles. Nothing else in the world matters to me.
How important am I? To what degree am I being who He created me to be? That is the real question I ponder. And it has nothing to do with what the world says I “deserve to get”, but has everything to do with what I bring to this this world using the talents He gave me.