Trying To Be Somebody: Part 1
Nashville. Music City. A city where the ambitious come to see their childhood dreams come to fruition. There is something in the air in our city, there’s a buzz about it. It’s the sound of aspiring musicians playing at a writer’s round or a bar on Broadway, the rumble of yet another moving van being unpacked at an apartment that costs way too much money, the sound of networking conversations, podcast recording studios, and hopeless romantics praying for the one opportunity that will open the door to a dream fulfilled.
We live in an era of social media, influencers and fame addiction and our city is at the center of it.
The ring of a dream on the brink of achievement is a beautiful sound but one to be cautious of nonetheless. While we know that we can’t ALL be the next Dolly Parton, Dax Shepard or Taylor Swift, we’re driven by the possibility that it could be us, we could be the one to “make it.”
Don’t hear what I’m not saying. Just because you’re not sitting here reading this post with the hope of a record deal, doesn’t mean you’re exempt from the desire to make yourself known. The truth is, we’re all trying to be somebody.
In Jesus’ last meal before the Cross, His disciples started arguing with each other about which one of them was the “greatest”… “Then they began to question among themselves which of them was going to do this. A dispute also arose among the disciples as to which of them would be considered the greatest…” (Luke 22:23-24). So before you start judging music city, take note, even those closest to Jesus weren’t exempt.
What are the side effects of this inherent desire to make a name for ourselves? They include (but are not limited to) shallow relationships that only matter when they can help get you where you’re going, a lack of faithfulness to see things through because everything becomes a next step towards the idealized place you want to arrive and an idolized view of yourself.
This is not new. We humans are tempted by the very idea that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden. “For God knows that when you eat from [ the tree of knowledge of good and evil ] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). Adam and Eve were already like God in all the ways they were meant to be. So the temptation was to be like God in ways we were not meant to be. To be like God, to be ultimately significant or in the word of the disciples, to be “great” is a trap of the enemy to keep us from finding true significance in the only One who can provide it, God Himself.
Scripture tells us that “All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return” (Ecclesiastes 3:20). While who we are and what we do on this earth matters to God, only He can give us the significance we chase, and He did that through His Son.
One of the most recognizable verses in all the Bible is John 3:16 which says, “For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus’ death and resurrection ensure us the eternal significance we all long for by reframing what greatness is. Greatness is service. Greatness, in the Kingdom of God, is laying down your life for others. Which is exactly what He told His disciples when they were arguing over “greatness.” Luke 22:26-27 says “Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.”
In other words, instead of worrying about whether you’ll be receiving the seat of honor, ask how you can serve the people around you.
Jesus not only modeled this, but He died in order to remove the thing in each of us that keeps us from living like that: sin. When we receive this loving service of grace from His life, He then empowers us to follow Him in these same ways. So whether you’re reading this hoping for a break in your career or you’re reading this and you’ve already achieved what the world views as success, our command is the same. Serve. Humble yourselves, look to the needs of others, find your value by looking at what Jesus did for you on the Cross and rest in the freedom He’s given you.