the push and pull to the illusion and emptiness of fame

…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Matthew 20

A recent post on wanting to be well known even as a Christian leader is well worth the read: Pride and Humility at War. The professor who has taught many years in a well known evangelical seminary (and extensions of it) has picked up that many of the students have it as part of their drive in what their doing, that they should somehow become well known. And how this self-ambition is dangerous and at odds with their actual calling.

Greatness according to Jesus is to serve, become servant of all. And in that way to be like Jesus. Ironically, it is those who exalt themselves who will end up being downgraded by God. Whereas those who humble themselves before God, God somehow exalts. Of course the epitome of humility that God honored is Christ himself (Philippians 2:5-11).

Whenever I hear someone talk about themselves or what they’re doing, as if somehow that stands out, I wonder. Yet I’ve done the same thing myself. I always wanted to find where I fit and it seems like to a large extent, it alluded me. Though if I step back and see what I have been given to do, I can find plenty of places along the way, as well as regular, that the Lord has given me. And it’s not just what we do. Relationships end up being a big part of this, and actually more than that: they’re central.

We humble ourselves before God, and we desire that others see Christ, not us. I know for sure that for people to know me will be no help to them at all, except insofar as they find Christ in me, not seeing me, but him. There is an aspect of us through Jesus, our unique true selves which ends up being a gift to others, while we receive the same gift from God in them.

We must beware of wanting anything more than our Lord’s approval and fellowship. Among the lowly, those like ourselves. And desiring nothing more than that Christ would be made known. Something we all need more of, and want to share with all others, in and through him.

Jesus: God’s answer to our questions, and to the questions we need to ask

It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified:

“What is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    a son of man that you care for him?
You made them a little lower than the angels;
    you crowned them with glory and honor
    and put everything under their feet.”

In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

Hebrews 2

During Advent and Christmas time we celebrate the birth of Jesus which we believe is no less than God becoming human in the Person of the Son, Christ. And when we say human, we mean human. Not merely the appearance of human, but human through and through. A mystery how God could become human, because in that humanity, Godness is not diminished, Jesus having the fullness of Deity in his humanity, being the radiance of God’s glory, and the exact representation of his being (Colossians and Hebrews).

We wonder just what significance humanity has, particularly when it seems that not only have we made a mess of things, but are all too often at each others’ throats. But that is part of the Christmas story, as well. Christ came to be fully human in signficant part to make purification for sin by the once for all sacrifice of himself, as he experienced death for us all.

I like the big questions, which can leave one puzzled and bewildered, the echoes of such we find in Bible books like Isaiah and Job. The universe (or universes, “worlds”) is so immense and so much beyond human compehension. There is so much to learn, and the more we learn, the more in wonder we are. Whatever else God is doing in the universe, in creation (“the secret things belong to God”- Deuteromomy 29), God has left the stamp of his love, even of his very nature- in Jesus, who is God with us. And through whom we can begin to share in that nature (2 Peter 1).

The marvel of it all is that we as humankind not only matter, but matter greatly to God. So much so that God, while not changing in Godness and essence of Deity, yet took upon God’s Self our humanity, even our broken humanity. So that we can be made whole and completely human as God intended in our creation. And so we can share in the very Life of God. Which begins even in this life. In the humility of all we are as humans, and all we go through. God is present with us in Jesus. Which began in that stable (or cave) in a feeding trough so many years ago.

creation care

Anticipating the wonderful weather of the next two days here, even though I have to be inside working most of the daylight hours, I am again hit with the wonder of the newness of life springing up from the earth. This is an inherent part of God’s good creation of earth. Life teems here in seemingly endless forms. And we humans have been given a charge by God to be stewards and care takers of this good earth. Dean Ohlman who works where I work at RBC Ministries has profound thoughts on this on  his blog, and I hope for the day when he writes a book with photos included concerning his passion for creation care.

Amidst the largely misguided (in my view) rejection, or at least suspicion of mainstream science, and for other utilitarian reasons it seems, many of us evangelical Christians have little passion or concern for the care of earth. Our theology does not include this important aspect of God’s cultural mandate to humanity found in Genesis (see 1:26-30; 2:15; 2:19). Nor how the task of fulfilling that is made a part of God’s salvation in Christ in Christ’s exaltation as ruler over all, which though someday is to be shared with us, yet I think has ramifications for how we should look at our earth today, and what we should do with reference to it (Hebrews 2:5-9; 1 Corinthians 15:58 in context as to the resurrection mattering for what we do here and now).

This needs to change, and we need to develop a passion for responsibly seeing God’s good creation for what it is, a gift from God for humankind, but still belonging to God through creation and redemption. So that in our thinking and acting this becomes a chief consideration.

Again, I would heartily recommend Dean Ohlman’s blog. Dean is an intellectual and a naturalist who has helped me more than anyone to begin to understand God’s calling to us in creation, a calling which somehow has ramifications for us in what we do in the new creation here and now in Jesus.

This is just a dabbling in a subject which I’m still in infancy in my understanding. Though I’m glad for the baby steps that are coming, as well as learning some of the language.

How does creation care, or stewardship of the earth play into your understanding and life? How can we make it a priority in giving it its place in our lives? (Hint: again go to Dean’s blog to see one who does that!)