Falling Heroes

There are a plethora of fallen heroes of late. A popular Christian pastor, author, and network leader has publicly stepped down. Another athlete has be found to be regularly abusing his spouse. A politician running for president is beset by yet another scandal. Read the news. Daily heroes are falling in the sports world, in the political world, and even in the Christian community. The element of these stories that is most astonishing to me is not the offense of the people who we look to as heroes, but rather our surprise that these people are capable of disappointing us. (for a related post, see Up on a Pedestal) Maybe are surprised because of the amount of money they make. We have the flawed perspective that money perfects behavior. What we forget is that money or power or popularity provides a false sense of self. Having money may cover brokenness in a bought exterior, but the person on the inside will be unaffected. If you were unhappy or angry before having money, you will be unhappy or angry after having it. If you were unhappy or angry before having power, you will be unhappy or angry after having it. If you were unhappy or angry before having popularity, you will be unhappy or angry after having it. Another possible reason for our surprise may come from thinking that surely the affirmation of so many fans would perfect one’s values and beliefs. Yet, as anyone who is followed could tell you, the affirmation of the crowd is more of a noose. Behavior is determined by what will keep the affirmation flowing. The crowd will love...

Up On a Pedestal

Throughout our lives we have seasons in which we get put on some sort of pedestal. Built up in the mind of at least one other into something that we are not. Children put their parents on a pedestal. Spouses put each other on a pedestal. Congregations put their pastors high up on a pedestal. Truth is, this feels good. When we are the center of the kingdom, when the world is revolving around us, it builds up our sense of significance. It is easy to build an identity on what people think of us – having our sense of self and value reflected back to us by those we surround our self with. But when my feeling of being worth loving comes from the validation of others – it is a trap. Then you have to behave a certain way and project a certain image in order to gain the approval. The approval becomes an idol. It must be served. It takes work to stay on the pedestal. Know why pastors fall? Their focus became the pedestal rather than being centered in Jesus. Know why marriages fail? At least one spouse’s focus is on their pedestal. Serving self over serving the other. Know why peer pressure is so effective? It is all about having a pedestal to be put on. Jesus was put on a pedestal. Lauded by the crowds. Followed by thousands. Approval like that would certainly be a temptation. But Jesus was centered in the Father. From that position of submission and oneness, Jesus had his identity and purpose. Despite being on the pedestal, He maintained...

Identity and the First Commandment

For some time I have been wanting to create a blog series, so we will be looking at how the ten commandments relate to identity. It all starts with God’s words in Exodus 20:1 – 3… And God spoke all these words: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” Before God gave the commandments, he made a statement of significance, a statement that is thematic throughout the Bible, a statement regarding his relationship with the image bearers he created. I am the Lord your God. Your God. While it is not used here, there is a complementary statement that the Lord uses in other places where he states his desire to be their God (for instance, see Exodus 6:7 and Leviticus 26:12), yet it is logically implied even here – I am the Lord your God, hence you will be my people. From the beginning, God has been concerned about our identity – the sense of self that we, as his image bearers possess. Our identity was always intended to be from the reference point of being his people. Our sense of significance was supposed to come from being the people of a God who was daily present with us. Our security was supposed to come from being the people of a faithful God. Our feeling of wholeness and love was supposed to come from being the people of a God who does not need anything from us. The Bible is a story of a God who wants people to see themselves as his, and of...

A Lesson on Performance

It is so easy to substitute an idol for Jesus. Our false self demands it. Denying that false self daily, staying on the narrow path is an arduous and intentional process. Made even more so by our ability to take good things and make them our idols. We have to be wary of the space that we are allowing everything except Jesus to have in our lives. Nowhere is this more subtle than in the area of ministry – doing things for Jesus, as his representative. It is only a subtle degree of separation to go from having an identity in Christ to having an identity in doing things for Christ. {click here to tweet that} The former is secure and stable, rooted in the truth of the Gospel – that we are chosen, loved and saved by God himself. In the latter our perceived worth to God becomes highly dependent on our own performance. As I lived this, it was so easy to justify my logic: since God made me a pastor and gave me these opportunities for service, success in ministry equaled rightness with God. It is so easy for the heart to be deceived, even by good things. With this sense of the tug of the false self, we’re going to look in on Jesus in Luke 10 as He is sending out 72 disciples in pairs to every town that He was about to visit. After some instruction, 36 pairs of disciples, who were probably at the same time nervous and excited, set off on their work of service, prepared in advance for them to do. In verse...

Gain Perspective. Live Well.

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