Our politicians split us into “shirkers and strivers”. Social mobility is the greatest aspiration in the eyes of many. Others seek fortune and, in particular, fame, as shows like X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and The Voice trot out a never ending stream of people crying over their “last chance” to escape normal life. Most are too young to have even had a first chance!
What house you live in, what schools your children go to, what car you drive, what job you have, where you go on holiday, how many Twitter followers you have, how busy you are, how influential you appear to be; these seem to be the driving forces behind people’s lives. Yes, money comes into it, but only as a means to these ends. We want to be successful or, more importantly, to be seen to be successful.
This can lead to real success for some, who end up finding that it’s not enough. Once you have a taste for the high life you want more and more.
For others, it’s an aspiration which is utterly destructive. Just look at the credit crisis we have been going through recently. Personal debt is at an all time high, partly due to people struggling to make ends meet in the first place, but mainly down to people chasing an unattainable dream. There’s a lifestyle we aim for, but it’s usually beyond our financial means. Easy credit has made it possible, but the cost of this has been unaffordable debt and global financial collapse.
The desire for a higher social status, to look good in from of our peers, is ruinous. It tears us apart as we move further away from who we are and who we are meant to be whilst trying to become someone that our society demands that we be if we are to be somebody. It’s unhealthy and damaging.
Jesus warns us against this when he speaks of the religious teachers of the time.
“As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”” (Mark 12:38-40 NIV)
What they are doing isn’t real. They look important, have a high status, the respect of many, but it’s a sham. They teach God’s Law, but they don’t live within the spirit of it, treating others as if they are beneath them. They live to be important, not to be God’s people.
Jesus has already taught us how we are to live. It’s not for our glorification, but for that of God. It’s not to further ourselves, but to help others. When asked about the most important commandment, he says,
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31 NIV)
Love God and love others. Self promotion, self satisfaction, self interest doesn’t come into it. It’s not about looking up to some and down on others. It’s not about being seen to be important or successful. It’s about loving and respecting others and God. That’s all its ever been about.
I know my place.