Thursday, September 22, 2011

Paying the Price

Today's passage:  I Corinthians 4:6-21
     When I was younger (much younger) I wanted to be an actress.  Pretending to be someone else came naturally to me.  I enjoyed being in plays in elementary school and particularly in high school.  As a teenager, I wondered if I might be "discovered".  I'm so glad I wasn't.  Hollywood is not someplace a Christian can thrive very easily.  I have heard of some Christians who have "made it" but I'm guessing it has not been without some compromise.  I have never been a very compromising person, when it comes to the things of God.  My oldest son, just the other day, said something about wanting to be an actor.  It strikes fear into my heart.  I understand those desires.  I understand wanting to become "famous".  I also understand the price.  I simply said to him that if that is a job God would want him to pursue, he needs to understand that he would not have another private moment.  He was not crazy about that idea.  I told him that is the price of fame.  Maybe that has him thinking for a little while about another career path.  I hope so.  Although I understand having this creative side, and wanting to express it, I also understand the wrestling with pride that goes along with it.  Having people recognize something you have done, and not allowing your ego to expand and fill the room so that there is no space for anything or anyone else.  Because any talent, gift, skill we have been given, is from God.  What is there to brag about, when we are not the source of what has been given to us to use?  And for what are we to use it?  His glory.  I always thought that when my hair starts graying, when the boys are grown, I might pursue Christian theater, where I could act in something that would bring honor to Him, and would not interfere with Sunday and Wednesday services.  I don't think there is anything wrong with acting itself, I just don't believe a Christian can bring the greatest honor to God by being in an acting community.
     I have always scoffed at celebrities who bristle at the paparazzi and being expected to give interviews.  Some of them do this begrudgingly.  You take the good with the bad.  If you want to be recognized everywhere you go, if you want to make the millions of dollars, you have to expect that journalists will somehow want to put your face on every cover, even if you are picking your nose.  Do I think it is a little excessive?  Yes.  But I don't think they should complain.  Many of them say, well, I didn't want to be a celebrity, I just wanted to act or play my music.  Um,  who are you acting and playing for?  Are you telling me that you want to be in the movies or a band and you don't want anyone to buy the tickets to your film or buy the CD for your album?  I think it is more that they didn't realize exactly what fame would bring.  They want all the glory, but none of the interference.  Sorry folks.  One comes with the other.
     This leads me to the passage for the day.  The Corinthians glorified the life of the apostle.  All they could see was that they got to speak in front of hundreds of people, they got to go on a whirlwind tour of the world, they were able to heal people.  They were recognizable.  Paul quickly pops their delusional bubble.  He explains that this apostleship is not always an easy life.  Sometimes they do not have a place to lay their head, sometimes they are hungry and thirsty.  That sounds like God didn't provide for them, but I think it is more speaking of the comforts of home.  I'm sure Paul had three squares a day, but maybe he was in the mood for a candy bar.  He couldn't just go to the pantry in his home, and grab one.  He had to depend on the kindness of others.  He had to depend on the people God put in his path.  There is nothing like sleeping in your own bed.  But the apostles rarely got to sleep in the same bed each night.  That would cause some restlessness.  Paul says that they are reviled and persecuted.  The Corinthians apparently only saw the people who believed.  They didn't see the hundreds who rejected, who pelted them with stones, who banished them from their towns.  He says the apostles are the "offscouring of all things".  I picture the caked on food in a skillet.  Who wants that part of the meal?  That is what you try to wash down the drain or scrape into the garbage.  Yuck!  Paul is trying to enlighten Corinth on the real life, behind the scenes.  It may look glorious, with people wanting you to autograph their scroll, with people wanting to have you heal them, but there is a lot of downside to it.  Paul is trying to show the Corinthians that those skills and gifts were given for the express purpose of bringing honor to God, not to themselves.
     Fame is becoming increasingly more important to people.  I don't know why people would want to be recognized everywhere they go, with no privacy ever.  I don't know why they would not want a sense of a normal life.  But I know that is the price tag for being famous.  I know that fame is not always what it seems.  The paycheck is nice, but how many days of hunger led to that first big break?  How many compromises did it take to get to the point where you call the shots?  Apostleship was nothing like being an actor or musician.  There was no sense of trying to become the most famous preacher.  Paul was doing what God called him to do.  I'm praying that my son will get over his desire to be famous and will do what God calls him to.  I'm pretty sure He is not calling him to Hollywood.

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