Saturday, October 6, 2007

What is True Greatness?

While flipping through channels the other evening I came across special about celebrity lives on the Entertainment Channel. Though this is not a normal occurrence, I found myself engrossed in the tales of the lives of these celebrities. The commentator took the viewer through the various purchases and extravagances of the rich and famous in a way that seemed to almost normalize them. One woman who owned a famous boutique in Beverly Hills in the middle of her explanation of the star treatment flippantly said, “I drop everything when Paris comes in because she deserves it.”

I was reminded of C.J. Mahaney’s sermon on true greatness. Amidst all of the idol worship around us, he painted a very different picture of what we should ascribe supposed deserved adoration. He pointed to Christ and that what he said and did on our behalf was worthy of the term greatness. He preached from Mark 10: 32:45 and in that message the Lord used him to reveal areas that we as Christians have a distorted understanding of greatness. Consider the words of Jesus, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave to all. For the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Our first mistake in recognizing true greatness is believing the people we praise to be the source of their greatness. Every good and perfect gift comes from above, including talent, riches, and beauty. There is nothing that we have that was not given to us by the Creator. We are simply the created. Therefore we must first recover our theology of God, and His Lordship over all, in order to see greatness for what it truly is.

We must also pray for a discerning mind to think like our Christ. He did not count the things of this world as something to be grasped and held to. He came as a servant, therefore when we hear of people talking about “deserving” something, our minds should immediately look to Christ and what he said we are deserving of.

To live as Christians in this post modern world will mean that we must learn to discern true greatness. Instead of being drawn in awe and wonder into the “Lifestyles of the Rich of Famous”, we should be able to recognize it for what it is—darkness. What good does it profit a man to have fifty Roll’s Royce’s in a customized garage if he loses his soul? And what good does it profit a woman to have $500 designer jeans and racks of Jimmy Choo shoes if she, too, loses her soul in the end? Floating around in the sea of ever flowing champagne and cash is the sad reality that this is false greatness that leads to death.

True greatness is not the movie star or the athlete. It is the small town pastor who works three jobs to support his family and preach the Gospel to his people, even when there is no fruit. It is the faithfulness of a mother to raise her children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, even when it is hard. And it is the courage of a missionary to go the poorest of the poor, the despised and lowly, to bring them the Gospel of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Maybe their faces will never grace the cover of Christianity Today and they probably will never have their lives chronicled on a 20/20 special. But the Father knows their name, and he knows their ministries. Their names are written in heaven and their labors will one day be recognized when the last are finally first and they hear “well done, my good and faithful servant.” And that is true greatness.


Whitney said...

Thank-you for this post, Courtney! I miss you very much! Love you, friend

johnson, steph said...


thanks for your encouraging post!

love you!!