Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Popularity and Humility

Popularity and Humility


“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”– Matthew 25:40

From an early age, I found it worth working to achieve.  I worried about it, dressed for it, acted in ways that I thought would assure it, and even sinned to attain it.  Yet all that time was wasted in a world that is temporary, in a world where people’s opinions don’t really matter.  Popularity is defined as “the favor of the general public or a group of people.”  As a teenager growing up in a school where the popular kids were the ‘cool’ kids, I thought this would bring me joy.  But the truth is only Jesus Christ brings joy. 

Oh I won’t lie to you.  Popularity will make you happy. But happiness is temporary.  Happiness will last until you have a bad hair day, or until your best friend stops talking to you.  Happiness is there until the clouds of doubt come.  Happiness runs and hides when the rumor mills start cranking out crap with your name on it.  But joy – the joy of Jesus Christ – that doesn’t walk away.  On days when I look like I just rolled out of bed hours after I fixed my hair and makeup, I still have joy.  On days when I feel alone, the joy of Jesus Christ tells me I am not.   On days when I feel defeated, His joy inside me can bubble up and smack a smile across my face.  Even on days when the teenage zits come back, joy is still my strength! 
Popularity isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be!  In fact, in the economy of the eternal Kingdom of God, it is given the tin metal, not the gold.  God’s favor system is different, as His word tells us time and time again.  Matthew 19:30 says “But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”  Matthew 10:39 says “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” Luke 9:48 says “For he who is least among you all will be great.” Matthew 5:5 says Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”  So all this time we spent growing up wanting to be the first called for the team in gym class, wanting to be voted homecoming queen, or wanting to be picked to be the date of the ‘cool’ guy, was all in vain in the Kingdom of God.  All that time and effort, put toward earning something that was of no more value than a gum ball machine toy.

Not one time does God say, “be ye popular because I am popular” or “blessed are the well liked among men, for he will be favored”.  God does not honor the favor of people, but has his own favor system.  What it takes to find favor with God is simple: humility.

James 4:6 says that “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” The dictionary defines humble as “low in rank, importance, status, quality; not proud or arrogant; modest: having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience”.

There were times when I was younger that I truly felt God was resisting me, unable to be found.  I know now that my desire to please people and find their favor was getting in the way of finding God’s favor.  You can’t work to achieve both the favor of man and the favor of God.  They are exact opposites.

The thing is this.  If God values humbleness over popularity, then why don’t His children?  Why is it that when the family of four, all dressed in their Sunday best, come into our churches they receive a warm welcome, but the single mother toting her biracial race child receives a cold stare over the shoulder?  Why is it that we stop and stare at those that are different from us, but those that walk and talk like we do get a friendly smile?  Are not all precious in His sight?  Why then do we befriend those that are upper class rather than lower class, and who determines that this is “lower class” anyhow?  In Matthew 25:40 Jesus says “inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” This will not be the day that I shun Jesus.

I fear one day that we will all get to Heaven and find we have become last, and those we shunned due to the economics of popularity will be first.  I don’t know about you, but Heaven is going to last a lot longer than this world, and I intend to have friends in high places!

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