Ashley and I browsed through a few island shops in the downtown area while on vacation. One of the more trendy items in the shops were the wood-blocks with quotes on them. In a world filled with Twitter and Status Updates, folks love pithy sayings to entertain them. Philosophy has become so shallow today that our rule of life has been nothing short of billboard living. We try to boil it down and keep it short. Why? Well, it may have something to do with our insatiable I-want-it-now appetites and terribly short attention spans. Anyway…
We saw this quote and I almost laughed out loud. It reads, “When they discover the center of the universe, a lot of people will be disappointed they are not it.”
I found it most amusing because a few days before this I read something similar from Archbishop Timothy Dolan on Twitter. He said, “When we fret and worry that all depends on us, remember: Cemeteries are filled with folks who thought the world couldn’t go on without them!”
Now, I would say there’s a theme here if a boutique retail item and a Roman Catholic Archbishop are putting forth similar ideas.
My point? We have to be careful how we see ourselves. My congregation would probably like to strangle me for how many times I’ve brought up Philippians 2 or used it in sermons, but Paul really DID believe that we were to put others before ourselves. Ashley and I have taught youth for years now that life is all about God and his desire to love others. But here’s one of the untold reasons behind considering “others as better than yourselves”: it keeps you humble.
See, Christian living is good for EVERYBODY. In a sense, it IS about you…and God…and others. Living the Christian life glorifies God, teaches others about God and living godly, and it saves your soul from things like pride, vanity, and a whole host of other vices. Christian living changes us because putting God first means he is the center of our universe (our hearts). When we do that, we understand that God “desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” 1 Timothy 2.4. So now that God is alive in us and his will to love others is apparent in our own hearts, we begin to see a change in ourselves. Why? Because now we are opening up our lives to exist as God exists, as a giver.
God wants to give through you. You are important to God, both because you are his child and because he’s entrusted his mission to redeem the world to you and those around you. You aren’t indispensable, though, and that is where our quotes come into play, but you are loved beyond measure (grace), which means God would never trash you. I like this quote, “God doesn’t make junk.” I believe it. You may not be the next Mother Teresa or Billy Graham, but that isn’t the point either. The point is to let God use you—your gifts, your abilities, your love, your energy—and that begins by taking yourself out of the middle, placing God at the center, letting him love others through you, and enjoying the change that takes place in yourself when you begin to see the kind of universe God is creating with you as his building block.
Have a great 4th of July. Have fun, be safe, and remember all those who put you before themselves so that we can have this great country.