A crumb in a bottle

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Celebrity Pop Quiz! Fill in the blanks to tell for what role or action each person is best remembered.

Christopher Columbus _______  _________.
Anne Frank is famous for the ______ she kept.
George Washington was our ______  __________.
Mary was the mother of _______.
The musical group most associated with the “British invasion” is The _______.
William Shakespeare wrote sonnets and _____.
Bo Jackson won the ________  ________.
John Glenn _______ the earth.
Jesse James was an ______.
Victoria and Elizabeth I were queens of _________.
J.K. Rowling wrote the ______  _______ book series.
Knute Rockne was a _______  ______ at Notre Dame.

My answers are at the end of this post.

The list of celebrities and the accomplishments for which they are known could go on and on. Here are some words associated with celebrity:

  • Fame
  • Well-known
  • Prominent
  • Historical figure
  • Star
  • Superstar
  • Notoriety
  • Household name
  • Stature
  • Popularity
  • Leader

Information access and social media make it easier and more fun than ever before to follow favorite actors, athletes, writers, foodies, politicians and world changers. And to see who they are following. And to feel left behind if our passionate, polished posts never get more than 50 or 60 “likes.”

Importance is important. Recognition, not so much.

During a recent Sunday School lesson based on a Chip Ingram book about spiritual warfare, my gaze became riveted on one of the PowerPoint slides. If the moment had been a movie scene with special effects, the rest of the slide, and the wall and the room, would have gone blurry while a glow like the one in Instagram’s “Mayfair” filter illuminated the words in question. Words about our getting sidetracked – even obsessed – with accomplishing something that’s hailed as important by the rest of the world.

I emailed my sister about the quote, connecting it to my waning goal of authoring a legitimate novel or two. I told her, “It’s easy to buy into believing that importance depends on recognition.”

The most important things most of us do and say likely won’t “go viral.” They won’t turn the heads of thousands or even of hundreds. At least, not for much longer than it takes for a well-put Facebook post to be displaced by newer stuff.

Mary, mother of Jesus, is one whose most significant life choice wasn’t made with the hope of being recognized and applauded. Read the first chapter of Luke. The angel did not tell Mary that if she had a good attitude about becoming with child by the power of the Holy Spirit her name would be known to all the world until the end of time as the mother of the Son of God. Nevertheless, Mary’s response from overflowing joy, “all generations will call me blessed,” has held true. And Elizabeth told Mary, “blessed are you among women” and “blessed is she who believed [God’s message spoken by the angel].” True statements. But Mary didn’t obey in order to be blessed. She obeyed because her chosen path was to be God’s servant. Come to think of it, that’s not only why she obeyed, but also why she was approached to begin with!

Will the good, proper, diligent, God-serving, society-building things you and I do every day result in everlasting accolades by other people? Mostly, the answer is no. Shall we despair over that? Only if our understanding is amiss. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9) Our persistent obedience, up against all manner of emotional challenges in a chaotic world, produces monumental recognition and reward from the One whose approval is the only approval that really counts.

Are you crawling for crumbs?

Sure. It does feel exciting and “legit” when an actor replies to one of our comments on Instagram. But, to go crawling over to cradle a crumb of bread that fell from the table where a championship college football coach was eating at a barbecue restaurant  – or, worse, to buy that crumb in a glass bottle off eBay – is sick. (Not so much as in “disgusting,” but as in “not healthy” – in more ways than one.)

Don’t worship celebrities. Neither think of them as commodities to be bashed and belittled if their career performance or personal integrity falls off the mark. Encourage if so led and if given the opportunity, but do that not because the person is famous. Encourage another human being because all human beings need encouragement. Most of all, pray for the celebrities whose careers you enjoy following, whose talents you admire, whose social platforms may or may not be in agreement with yours. Fame and wealth can be difficult roads for them to navigate.

After all, recognition is a two-sided coin. Reports that “go viral” aren’t always about good deeds. Wouldn’t you agree that our peers often flock in the greatest numbers to discuss the missteps we take? Yeas and boos often are shouted very close together from the same mouths. As the saying goes, “fame is a fickle friend.” With what harshness we judge others, we should expect to be judged ourselves.

Who deserves hero worship…and why

Only one celebrity has ever rated the degree of hero worship others somehow are receiving, and we are celebrating His birth right now as we do every December. Still on the topic of being judged harshly for missteps: Jesus was born to free us from the condemnation our sins rightly earn for us. Praise God for this blessed gift of forgiveness!

Which words from the first stanza of Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus seem connected to what we mistakenly invest in the worship of human celebrities and movers/shakers? I’ve put my answers in bold type.

Come, Thou long-expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Similar lines on longing and expecting, from Love Divine, All Loves Excelling:
visit us with Thy salvation;
enter ev’ry trembling heart.

Notice me!

“Notice me!” we seem to beg after we’ve crafted our post, designed our meme, or launched a new Instagram account. Are we serving the best causes by spending so much time that way? Or, are we really just wanting and waiting for some big-name person (or a large number of little-name persons) to validate our existence and our efforts? If celebrities and crowds take notice of us, the way others take notice of them, then maybe we really are making a “big” difference. All of us need to look at whether we could be making a deeper difference within a smaller circle of people. Face to face instead of online.

I enjoy posting remarks I think are cute and clever as much as the next person does, but I do not need a celebrity’s or a trending company’s fleeting commendation to make me feel validated and valued. And neither do you. What you need is to realize how much your Creator loves you. Why scramble for crumbs dropped once in a blue moon by someone who doesn’t even know who you are? Instead, feast daily at the table of the One who knows your name, numbers the hairs on your head, and loves you in spite of all your faults.

Believe these true words. Then, as Mary and the shepherds each did in their turn, set forth in faith. Not to stand in line for tickets to the next amazing concert. Not to gather with thousands wearing team colors to watch the big game. Not to make a pilgrimage to the locale where is filmed the latest Netflix miniseries with which you are enthralled. Yes, do pack up your portable armchair, trail mix, bottled water, kilt, hiking boots, journal, and camera. But undertake a journey that has real meaning and eternal impact for yourself and for future generations. Spend less time going public with your thoughts if you aren’t also taking them privately to your gracious King. Forge onward with the same drive as you scroll through internet pages, and don’t stop until you’ve arrived at the manger of Bethlehem. There, the Celebrity that you adore deep in your heart – whether you realize it or not – is waiting to tell you how much He loves you and desires you.

“The Lord your God…will take great delight in you;…he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

Merry Christmas!

 

Note: the “crumb in a bottle” story is pure fiction (I mean, as far as I know!!), but you know as well as I do that real people have done things about as senseless as that out of misplaced hero worship.

Answers to celebrity pop quiz: discovered America. diary. first President. Jesus. Beatles. plays. Heisman Trophy. orbited. outlaw. England. Harry Potter. football coach.

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