We live in a society where being “really something” is relished. We spend our days watching folks on television who are the “cat’s meow” whether it be a bigtime politician, a subject expert, super athlete, model, a “foodie” celebrity, movie/tv/screen stars and on and on we can go. When we find ourselves in the presence of a high-profile person, we make fools of ourselves as we attempt to get close to these individuals. If we can get a picture taken with them, our day, week, month and maybe forever is made. “Oh, my gosh, an autograph would be heaven!”
Please don’t get me wrong. I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit that I idolize some athletes. My two favorite autograph pictures in my office are Nolan Ryan pounding Robin Ventura on the head with one arm as he had the other one wrapped around Ventura’s head, and Jason Witten autograph picture running down the field without his helmet fearlessly against the dreaded Philadelphia Eagles. Both are cherished. Busted…I feel these guys are really something.
Our society idolizes stars.
Paul the Apostles (called Saul by the Jews) started his career being idolized by the Hebrew nation. There was an uprising in their country that had to be handled before it got out of control. Saul was a brilliant man, a leader, a scholar, a rising star who had a powerful demeaner who could more-than-handle this problem for them. Man, did he! He went house to house throwing Christ-Followers in jail and had others murdered by his “hit men.” One of these was recorded in Acts 7 when he had one of the popular leaders in the uprising church, Stephen, killed. Here is how the Bible recorded Saul’s effort in Acts 8, On that day (day of Stephen’s martyr) a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison. Christ-Followers scattered to save their lives. Saul was fixated on wiping Christ-Followers out and the activity of the church had been paralyzed. The Hebrew leaders were ecstatic. This guy, Saul, is an unbelievable enforcer getting rid of pest…good riddance.
H-O-W-E-V-E-R, something happened in Saul’s meteoric, hero worshipped career. As he was receiving all kinds of kudos from his nation, he decided to move outside of Jerusalem (church was under wraps there) to Damascus where another uprising of these rogues must be squashed. However, on the road to Damascus, Saul dramatically met Jesus Christ to the point that physically he was blinded by light. The very first statements about this episode were recorded in Acts 9 “4 Saul fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” This powerful man was brought to his knees! He recognized at that moment, Jesus, whose followers he persecuted, was Lord and verbally confessed that being saved. Then, the voice of Jesus instructed him, “you will be told what you must do.” This egomaniac Saul discovered that Jesus was now his Lord and Master.
After rejecting the Jewish law-based religion, Saul became known as Paul the Apostle and was no longer idolized by the Hebrew nation but despised and hated. Many times incarcerated for long periods, he reached out to the world with the message of “Jesus saves by grace and mercy” and the world was turned right side up. Here is how Paul explains it in Philippians 3 If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more:5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. 7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ. Paul admitted that he was an up and coming star in the Hebrew world. However, after meeting Jesus Christ, he recognized all of the notoriety, scholarship, profile, hero worship, fame, respect even reverence was “garbage, that I may gain Christ.”
As Paul stated in Galatians 6, 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. When you think you’re really something, be careful!