There is an innate desire within many of us to be recognized. We want to be seen as significant. Often this desire is cloaked in the use of the word “meaning.” We want our lives to have meaning and to matter. This desire in and of itself is not a bad one. Like anything, the notion of meaning and significance can become idolatrous and evil when these notions are given priority over seeking God.
In Luke 20, Jesus gives his disciples a warning about “the teachers of the law.” (Teachers of the Law were bible scholars and “professors.”) Jesus says, “They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets.” (Luke 20:45-47) Their actions were based on an appeal to significance. They felt they were significant because they dressed like holy people, because they were greeted as if they were important, and because they received the honor of respected members of society.
However, for the teachers of the law, their significance was based on the treatment and response of others. For Jesus, his significance was based not on his treatment from others but from his fidelity to his Father. Jesus said, “Whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19) His significance was centered on doing the will and work of God.
As we consider how we seek our own significance we can ask ourselves, “Is protecting my reputation more important than following God? Do I spend more energy promoting myself than seeking God’s will? Do I get my significance from what others think of me rather than what God thinks of me? As a community, do we seek to look good in front of our Uptown neighbors or do we truly seek the will of God?