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Embrace Your Insignificance

10 Jul
Embrace Your Insignificance

I think the majority of our (my) vices, sins, and depths of depression come from the search for significance.  We are continually looking for things that will make us feel important and valuable.  My wife and I went to see a musical on Sunday at the Wharton Center and even though I don’t have a shred of musical ability in me, as I applauded the performers, a sense of jealousy came over me.  Why am I in the crowd clapping, rather than being on stage, being applauded?  I think the same types of thoughts when I watch baseball games.  Here I am sitting with tens of thousands of people in the stands, cheering like a child for players who are mostly younger than me now.  Wouldn’t it be something to be on the field, having all of those people cheer for me?  To have people approach me for my autograph and a photo?  I walk out of the Wharton Center with thousands of other people, jostling for position in the crowd as we head toward our cars, feeling a bit like a lemming…another insignificant person in the crowd…a stat…a consumer…no one seeking my autograph or excited to see me.

I think most of us want to be famous to some degree.  Want people to see us as something special.  I think that’s why Facebook appeals to us.  We can write things and immediately have other people “like” us and “like” the things we say.  We long to be liked and we seek it out, often in unhealthy ways.

We fear insignificance, so we seek to fill this void.  Usually it’s in relationships…if I can get this girl to like me, it’ll prove that I’m not insignificant.  It phases from here to significance financially and in our careers…if I have a certain financial status, or status in my company, it will prove that I’m not insignificant.  Or we appeal to whatever subculture we are in.  I see this in the teens in my inner-city neighborhood…if they are seen as cool by their peers in their 4-block radius, they are secure.  I see this in the semi-pro football league I play in with some of the guys.  The guys who weren’t able to secure their superior status from high school or college football, so now seek it in semi-pro, seeking proof of their superiority.  And if that superiority is challenged, they will downright fight you to prove to everyone that they are valuable.  And as pastors, we have our own subculture we use to prove our value, typically wrapped up in our Sunday morning statistics (or how many people read our blog).

As a Christian, I try to remind myself “I am valuable in Jesus, I don’t need these other things to make me valuable.”  While the substance of this thought is on the mark, I’m just now realizing I’ve missed a crucial step.  My value in Jesus always has to compete with the potential value I think I can get out of whatever is in front of me.

The step that I’ve been missing is to simply embrace my insignificance.  Rather than stand up and say to insignificance, “You are wrong!  I am significant!  Look how I can prove it to you…”  I’m learning to say, “You are right… I am insignificant.  No matter how much money I make, how many girls I’d get, how high up in football or baseball I could go, how many movies I could star in, how much political power I could have, ALL of these things are insignificant in the cosmic scheme of things.  In comparison to how BIG God is and how LONG eternity is, all of these things are insignificant.  James 4:14 hits it on the head, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”  The fact is, my insignificance draws me to God.  As long as I’m thinking that I make a pretty good god, the less I am in need of one.

I am insignificant.  God is significant.  On top of this, I am a sinner, separated from God.  And nothing I can do can make this right.  But God made it right.

I can embrace my insignificance as a broken sinner, one of many of billions and billions of broken sinners who have come before me and will come after me.  That nothing the world offers actually amounts to true significance in the long run.  I can embrace this, and once I have fully realized the depth and truth of this, that NOTHING I do can make this any different, I am free to stop trying.  To stop trying to fill up a cup that is cracked beyond repair.  Once I let go of this cup, I can trade it in for the cup that Jesus offers.  Jesus thought I was significant enough for him to die on the cross for.  And he offers me significance of his love and of being adopted into God’s family as his son!  If I continually fear being insignificant (and seeking to remedy this), I will never be free to fully receive the gift of true significance found in being loved by Jesus.

This is a significance that frees me from selfishness and allows me to pursue the things in life that really matter and that have eternal impact.

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10 Comments

Posted by on July 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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10 responses to “Embrace Your Insignificance

  1. Amanda

    July 10, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    We are significant though. 🙂 significant enough to be created and for God to send his son to die so we could live. I guess the real point would be stop trying to be significant to everyone except God. He’s the only one who matters and we are auto significant to him! 🙂

     
    • Noah

      July 11, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      Amanda, I totally agree with you, just getting there in a more roundabout way. I don’t think a person can fully receive the significance they have in God until they fully realize that the “significance” this world offers is empty and temporary. Once we embrace this insignificance (a big part of which is realizing God is God and we are not), we are then free to get out of the hamster wheel and just enjoy the love of God.

      The idea I got for this post was from a sermon Jeremy Dowsett did on the Tower of Babel at Blacksoil this past Saturday. He mentioned the people at Babel feared being insignificant, so they wanted to make a name for themselves. Yet when we look back at the Ziggurats (which they thought were amazing) they built, they’re not very impressive objectively. It struck me that a lot of people are stuck in this type of cycle of trying to prove they aren’t insignificant by doing empty things to make a name for themselves.

       
  2. jrogerw

    July 10, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Good thoughts. I don’t think this particular issue ever really bothered me, or if it did, I’ve forgotten. Oh, I enjoy being noticed and not ignored. I enjoy being in front of people and hope they learn something when I teach, but I don’t think fame was ever much of an issue. Ironic, really, because my baby boomer/hippy generation was all about only being a number.

    Strongly related to significance, tho’, is a need for love, God’s love overall, as well as the lover of our families, friends, and brothers and sisters in Christ. Being loved and knowing it is much better than being famous.

     
    • Noah

      July 11, 2012 at 1:50 pm

      Good points Roger. I think the reason people want to be “famous” to some degree (Whether that is nationally, or just in their 4 block radius) is because they are looking for love. But I think there is a healthy type of love, which you refer to, and there is the unhealthy type of self-worship, which is a little more what I was referring to. I think self-worship is what leads people to do a lot of selfish things.

       
  3. reverend is my hero

    July 11, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    i read your blog. Hope that helps! 🙂

     
    • Noah

      July 12, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      too funny. thanks!

       
  4. Kenneth Richardson

    July 11, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    Noah. You just impress me so much. Maybe it’s just because I agree with so much of your teaching. If that’s the case, oh well, don’t care, I still think your insight is profound and important. It’s a great thing that Father got you working for Him. Not so much that you get to be “The Man” but so that we get to see the mind of God in His people. Keep up the great work!

     
    • Noah

      July 12, 2012 at 2:17 pm

      Thanks Ken!

      And you know, it’s funny, I don’t get a big ego-stroke when people give me compliments or applaud me at church (not that we normally applaud sermons!). I tend to just say thank you and move on, in fact I could probably allow compliments to build me up more than I do. I guess I say that to say that the limelight of say playing Major League Baseball is a very different “limelight” to what I experience as a pastor–it’s really not something I feed off of. But where I struggle is in using our attendance (and blog hits!) to internally measure my effectiveness / value.

       
  5. zane

    July 12, 2012 at 2:15 am

    I was wondering if you there is a role to this in/significant idea that is connected to the separation of God to man, since the separation occurred could our desire to feel significant be interrelated to a form of a child feeling neglect. Therefor since Jesus reconnected God to man, is our need of significance (or possibly approval) more of a lie of the former separation from God mindset?
    If it is a lie, than our compliance and attempts to make since of it will, although from time to time ease our minds, would ultimately leave us wanting.

     
    • Noah

      July 12, 2012 at 2:19 pm

      I think the difference with a child feeling neglect is that in that case, the parent abandoned the child, but in our case with our separation from God, we walked away from God. But I do think you are right on that it’s this separation that makes us seek our approval elsewhere. We were designed to be in intimate connection with God, the source of all life. You unplug us from the Lifesource, and we are going to naturally seek it out elsewhere. And none of these places are authentic Lifesources. So yes, we would definitely be left wanting if/when we pursue these things because while they look appealing, they always let us down in the end. Good insight Zane!

       

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