food for thought

by Sandra

I read an article on the Burnside Writers Collective yesterday called “Rewriting Our Notions of Success,” and it knocked my socks off.  I have more to write about my reaction, but I’m a little pressed for time and my thoughts are scattered this morning afternoon.

I will say this, though — this article brings up a very good point that even in church culture, our ideas of what success looks like, what makes someone stand out, runs very counter to who and what Jesus was when he was on Earth.  He was poor, pretty much homeless, and in the end betrayed by the only twelve people in his life that stuck around ’til the end.

“Jesus was born into poverty and never really did find a place to lay his head. He didn’t complain about it; it’s just the way it was. But I don’t see any homeless people today on the covers of magazines, sacred or secular, marked out as world changers. One prevailing vision of success certainly includes material well being. There’s a notion that Christ came in order to endow people with upward mobility, vibrant health, and access to creature comforts and pleasures. If that’s true, then the mentors I’ll choose will look like they’ve fallen off the cover of some magazine; well heeled, attractive, flat abs, and access to lots of cash. If that’s the case, Jesus probably won’t qualify. Maybe he had the six pack abs; I don’t know. But the rest of it? I’m pretty sure he’d be overlooked in a crowd.”

Wow.  When I read that, I was jolted back to reality.  Yet how often do we here of that prosperity doctrine?  How often have I had a conversation with a fellow church member about how we admire someone for their looks or sense of style or career success?  This past year, a member of Mosaic ended up being an American Idol finalist and the whole church was caught up in a fervor.  Yet, what about those who were diligently serving the homeless or even in another part of the world, sacrificing their own wants and desires to make sure others were taken care of first?

Sigh.  I’m not saying that all that is bad.  I just get discouraged when I think about how far off my own thinking is in terms of valuing what really matters.  It’s not about blog stats or Flickr comments or Facebook friends.  Or even about success as a writer or the belief that life will be fabulous if I would just lose thirty pounds.  I suppose it’s also part of my fallen nature to chase after the wrong things in life — everyone does that to some degree, no matter how godly.  And I guess I can be thankful that, despite the desperate clutching, those wrong things are not reality — there really is something more important to orient my heart and life around — Christ’s love.