The measure of success differs among varying standards of individuals. For example, to some people, being a doctor, nurse, lawyer, insurance adjuster, realtor, business owner -- or any other number of professions -- constitutes "being somebody." To others, as long as people are wealthy, they imagine themselves as "being somebody." The Kardashians come to mind immediately.
But who, really, are the Kardashians? What is their claim to fame -- money? Does wealth define a person? If someone is wealthy, is that an indicator of worth or prestige or honor? Is an individual finally "somebody" if he or she is wealthy or famous?
One of Jesus' half-brothers was a man named James. Certainly being the half-brother of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world and Son of God Himself, indicated that he was "somebody." Not only did James call himself "a servant [or slave -- doúlos] of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ" (James 1:1), but he also wrote: "Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field" (James 1:9-10 NRSV). James was unimpressed with wealth and social status or prestige.
He also argued against prejudice and favoritism, implying that such people are not true believers in Jesus Christ, and thus not saved:
My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, "Have a seat here, please," while to the one who is poor you say, "Stand there," or, "Sit at my feet," have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? (James 2:1-4 NRSV) James could abide no semblance of what culture perceived as "being somebody." He explained that God has chosen "the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him" (James 2:5 NRSV). Treating the unfortunate with disdain or dishonor is a dishonorable and despicable act in God's view.
James added, "Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?" (James 2:6 NRSV) Sadly, too many believers grant preference to wealthy and "notable" persons while neglecting the poor and needy every day. Daily we pray, in the sets of Suffrages, "Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten; nor the hope of the poor be taken away" (BCP, 98). The "poor" and "needy" deserve our full attention, not the wealthy and famous.
The apostle Paul was no advocate for favoritism either: "For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves" (Gal. 6:3 NRSV). If Christ, the Savior, is "everything," then we are free to count ourselves as "nothing." If we think we are "somebody," when actually we are "nobody," we only deceive ourselves.
Jesus is somebody. I am nobody. "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). You are loved not because you are somebody but because He was, is, and always will be somebody -- somebody who loves His creation. You are loved not for your accomplishments but because your worth derives from the Worthy One Himself.
Though I am a sinner whom Jesus saved, by grace through faith in Him, compared to Christ I am nobody and nothing, nor do I care to be somebody by the standards of this culture. "I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked" (Ps. 84:10 NLT). Christ alone deserves all honor, prestige, preeminence and worship.
This post was written by William W. Birch. For the original post go to:
BE A MAN.