We're always in search of a spotlight. It's natural for us to crave attention. Just watch a baby when everyone else in the room is pre-occupied -- especially if they're focused on another baby! When we see a light shining on someone, we want to push them out of the way and take their place. We want the accolades. We want the most retweets. We want people to envy us. But, that means we've got to change ourselves.
We've got to change how we talk, dress, and engage others. If we want to grab the spotlight, we've got to chase after it. We have to change ourselves to fit into the spotlight. We've got to alter who we are so that people will continue to pay attention to us. And the more, the better.
But, this dissonance doesn't have to be entirely negative. It can be beneficial if it forces specific questions to the surface. Who am I? What's the purpose and goal of my life? Why am I here at all?
For us Christians, these are important questions with important answers:
Who am I?
A forgiven sinner declared so unequivocally by Christ Jesus through his preacher.
What's the purpose and goal of my life?
Thanks to Jesus, we're set free from having "to be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). He sets us free to be good and to help our neighbor.
Why am I here at all?
We're here to love God and neighbor, and, because of Jesus, we're free in our baptismal vocations to try hard, be honest, and help each other.
We are so free as Christians that we don't even have to compare ourselves to other Christians. We don't have to grab the spotlight. We don't have to be the wisest, funniest, most popular person in the room. We don't have to be a spiritual super-athlete. We don't have to be the envy of our family, friends, co-workers, or the Sunday morning crowd.
We are free to live a simple life out of the spotlight. We can make family our priority without worrying that we may be missing out on something more important. We can go to the work God has given us to do trusting that, in faith, everything we do is the worship of God. We're free as Christians to be ourselves, sinful warts and all.
We are so free as Christians that we don't even have to compare ourselves to other Christians.
At the end of his life St. Paul said, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (2 Tim. 4:7).
Capturing the spotlight isn't a cause worth fighting for. It isn't the kind of battle Paul calls "good." Chasing after retweets isn't a race worth running. Faith in Christ isn't dependent on other peoples' opinion of us.
So, maybe it's time for us Christians to turn our backs to the spotlight. We don't need to change who we are to grab peoples' attention. We don't have to sell out our integrity to be authentic and real with people. We don't have to be anyone except who we are in fact: forgiven sinners on account of Jesus' bloody suffering and death for us on the cross.
We don't have to chase the spotlight because God shines a light on only one: the light of the world, Jesus our Savior. It is enough that we are known by him, in him, and beloved by our heavenly Father on account of him. That's all the attention we need.
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