Did you ever want to be a hero? Score the winning goal? Save someone’s life? Do you still want to do something heroic? If not, why not? Don’t we all want to make a difference, to leave our mark on this world before we “shuffle off this mortal coil”? If we don’t want honour, why not? Have we lost our dream?
Let me ask you, what is this quest for recognition, this drive for honour, for meaning? It’s clear that we believe we’re created for glory. We want it. We fight for it. We work 14 hours a day for it. We go to war for it. We do whatever it takes to get some. Isn’t that why we have a phenomena called reality TV, the yearning for 15 minutes of fame?
As crass and pathetic as some of these attempts for publicity are, they highlight a fundamental truth about our nature. We were born for glory. It’s a God-given desire. We crave it at a gut-level. And we can’t eradicate it other than perhaps by depression or despair.
Our problem is not that we want too much glory, but that we don’t want enough. We want a low-grade variety. We think we could get it if we had enough talent, luck or beauty to get on American Idol or Survivor. However, the glory we were created for is so great, so exalted, that only God can give it. Jesus taught that it wasn’t wrong to seek for praise. It is wrong, he says, to seek it from others and not God alone (John 5:44).
And, of course, glory coming from God speaks to the fact that there’s an entirely different way of obtaining it. Just before Jesus journeyed to the cross to die, he spoke of his own glorification, and ours. “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me” (Joh 12:23-26).
This passage gives us tremendous hope. We don’t have to have great athletic or musical ability. We don’t have to do something silly or deceitful. All we have to do is follow Jesus in laying down our lives to love the people around us in whatever practical ways we can. If we share in this “suffering” i.e. of denying our own will to tune in to others’ needs, we will surely share in Jesus’ glory (Rom. 8:16,17).