Thursday, November 29, 2012

My Message Is About Him

In his book It’s Not About Me, Max Lucado illustrates how easily we can get in the way of God’s message. He tells a simple yet powerful story of a young guide in an art museum, who “took great pride in his work.”


Too much pride one might say. For in a short time, he forgot his role. He began thinking the people had come to see him. Rather than step away from the work of art, he lingered near it. As they oohed and aahed, he smiled. “Glad you like it,” he replied, chest lifting, face blushing. He even responded with an occasional “thank you,” taking credit for work he didn’t do.

Visitors disregarded his comments. But they couldn’t dismiss his movements. Lingering near a painting was no longer sufficient for the guide. Little by little he inched toward it. Initially extending his arm over the frame, then his torso over part of the canvas. Finally his body blocked the entire piece. People could see him but not the art. The very work he was sent to reveal he began to conceal.

That’s when his Superior intervened. “This job isn’t about you, Max. Don’t obscure my masterpieces.”

We applause-aholics have done it all: dropped names, sung loudly, dressed up to look classy, dressed down to look cool, quoted authors we’ve never read, spouted Greek we’ve never studied. For the life of me, I believe Satan trains battalions of demons to whisper one question in our ears, “What are people thinking of you?”

A deadly query. What they think of us matters not. What they think of God matters all. God will not share his glory with another (Isaiah 42:8) Next time you need a nudge away from the spotlight, remember: You are simply one link in a chain, an unimportant link at that.

Don’t agree? Take it up with the apostle. “So the one who plants is not important, and the one who waters is not important. Only God, who makes things grow is important” (1 Corinthians 3:7 NCV, emphasis mine).

Remember the other messengers God has used?
A donkey to speak to Balaam (Numbers 22:28).
A staff-turned-snake to stir Pharaoh (Exodus 7:10).
He used a stubborn oxen to make a point about reverence and a big fish to make a point about reluctant preachers (1 Samuel 6:1-12; Jonah 1:1-17).

God doesn’t need you and me to do his work. We are expedient messengers, ambassadors by his kindness, not by our cleverness.

It’s not about us, and it angers him when we think it is. Jesus has a stern warning for gallery guides who eclipse his work.

When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—“playactors” I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. (Matthew 6:2 MSG)

Gallery guides don’t deserve applause for great art.
And we entrusted with the gospel dare not seek applause but best deflect applause. For our message is about Someone else.

A European village priest in medieval times once gathered his church for a special service. “Come tonight,” he told them, “for a special sermon on Jesus.” And they did. They came. To their surprise, however, no candles illuminated the sanctuary. They groped their way to the pews and took their seats. The priest was nowhere to be seen. But soon he was heard walking through the church toward the front. When he reached the crucifix that hung on the wall, he lit a candle. Saying nothing, he illuminated the pierced feet of Christ, then the side, then one hand, and then the other. Lifting the candle, he shed light on the blood-masked face and the crown of thorns. With a puff, he blew out the candle and dismissed the church.

May we do nothing more.
May we do nothing less.

(It’s Not About Me, p. 90-95)



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