From a Puritan prayer:
As I have a position in the world, keep me from making the world my position; may I never seek in the creature what can be found only in the Creator.
How often do we make our position in the world our position? It is easy to do, at least for me. How often do we wear the accolades of others as we wear a new suit of clothes that we feel especially becomes us? How often do we do this in the church?
Jesus knew what was in man and did not give Himself to man to make Him king. The crowds and praises of man meant nothing to Jesus in terms of ego and self-identity. I cannot say that of myself. Jesus always had the Father before Him; His focus was the Father. Do I always have Jesus before me, is He my center of gravity, is He my North Star?
In the church we often make poster children of those who have positions in the world; is this wise? What do we communicate when we do this? Is a series of poster children as true a Biblical witness as a community of saints living in koinonia with each other in the Trinity? Perhaps poster children are our substitute for the witness of koinonia?
If ever there was a Biblical poster child it is Paul, yet Paul’s passion was the Body of Christ and Paul made little of his previous position in Judaism except to contrast it with knowing Christ. We tend not to make little of the positions of our poster children – in fact we extol the fact they are sports or entertainment stars, or high-profile executives; this is not a commentary on the poster children themselves, it is a commentary on ourselves and the fact that we make our position in the world our position.
One of the reasons the poster-child mentality troubles me, in much the same way the clergy-laity and sacred-secular mentalities trouble me, is that it we can be tempted to think that it absolves us of individual and collective responsibility to live as Christ’s covenant in our generation.
At the end of the day this is a personal challenge for me, for the temptation is always before me to evaluate myself based on my position in the world – whether it be a high position or a low position – in both instances pride stands before me like a hungry lion. My position must be Christ and Christ alone.
For consider your calling brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:26 – 31.