Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The roar of the crowd and the glory of God.

I remember when I was a walk-on football player at University of Washington back in the glory days. I was often punished by the first team defense, but I had the best seats in the house during games. There are a lot of things that stick out to me about my time there. One of things that stick out to me most was the strange dichotomy that existed in the star athletes. These players reveled in the praise of the crowd and yet regarded individuals with ambivalence. These players had been treated by people as gods for most of their lives because of their athletic ability, and so naturally they considered themselves better than all. They loved the crowd of people, but in reality, most of them didn’t care about any of them.

God has a lot to say about both sides of this dichotomy, and it couldn’t be more opposite that what I observed.

Simply put, we care what people think of us. We think too much of what people think of us. We worry what people think of us. We change because of what people will think of us. It was enough of a problem that Peter got hammered on by Paul because he cared what the Jews thought of him in Galatians 3:11-15.

Paul clearly states in Galatians 1:10 “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Truly, when we submit our lives to serve Christ, the opinion of the crowd must be silenced in the light of pleasing God. He becomes our audience of one. I remember in college when I was in a Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting one time and the speaker talked about this idea of playing only for the glory of God, playing to approve and please Him , alone. I made that practical every day when I came out on the field and looked up to the second level where I imagined Jesus sitting and watching me play. It affected my work ethic, my witness to the players and my morale.

These verses in Colossians have changed my life in so many ways in really boiling down where my motivation for any praise and notoriety should be… Col. 3:23-24-Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, [24] since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

All this to say, this blog is just a reminder to me that while I still struggle with loving the sound of the crowd and ignoring the individual, that when I serve Christ only, these opposites must be rearranged. When I live to please only Christ with my life, the love of pleasing the crowd will become less and less. And, as I live to please Christ, his love for each individual will become mine in increasing depths to the glory of God.

As we strive to live only for the Glory of God, our motivations become more pure and pure. We live for His glory when the crowd is cheering and when the crowd is jeering. Keeping our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, is the only way to overcome the glory of the crowd for the glory of God.


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