I love what I read recently about being famous: “Being famous on Instagram or Facebook is like being rich in the game Monopoly.” That is so true.
But we have a shallow culture today that seems to be addicted to being famous or “great” in the eyes of the people we want to think well of us. Our young people go through that period of maturity where being popular and belonging to the “cool kids.” Of course, part of being mature is growing out of this insecurity and becoming a person free from the fear of not being popular.
And yet, even as we know we need to mature beyond this desire to be great, we still have this fear inside that we are unknown or unappreciated. But the Faith gives us a way to grow up and be sober about our fears.
Look at our lesson today in Matthew 5:14-19:
The Lord said to his disciples, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
This is such a familiar passage and I’m sure you’ve heard countless talks about what Jesus means here. But I want to focus your attention on the last line of the passage: “…he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus is spending His ministry time forming His disciples and equipping them to form others as “great” in this new society He is creating called “The Kingdom of God.” And He does this by pointing out Three Characteristics of this new Kingdom.
First, This Kingdom will be a Kingdom of Light. Our Faith, our Church wasn’t designed to be hidden or ashamed or reserved only for the “right” people. This Kingdom of God is to be Light in the world. And what does Light do? It illuminates. You don’t stumble when you can see all around you. You are Light and that means those close to you can see clearly too. You Share the Light. You Show the Light. You ARE the Light of the world. And this illumination makes an open spectacle of your good works SO THAT others can find their way to the Light!
Second, This Kingdom Is a Kingdom of Continuity. The Lord Jesus didn’t come to throw away all that came before. He came to fulfill all that came before and to connect us to this continual revelation of the New Society Jesus consecrates in His Church. We don’t ignore the Old Testament or the Torah. We become inheritors of this great Tutor that was gifted to the whole world to bring us to Jesus Christ. The wisdom in The Law is meant to teach us and mature us and point us to Christ. To be ignorant of the Old Testament is to be impoverished in our inheritance in Jesus Christ!
Finally, This Kingdom is a Kingdom of Eternity! This Kingdom of God will have no end BECAUSE it is the Kingdom of our God and His Christ! This Kingdom has citizens that are forever connected to Him Who IS LIFE. And He shares His life with all those who enter into communion with Him in His Kingdom. This very connection sets me free to be “great in the Kingdom” because I am being transformed by His life to not just say I’m a Christian but to behave like a Christ in my choices, priorities, and daily life.
Today, do you desire to be “great?” Good! But desire a greatness based on eternal wisdom, not the fleeting popularity of ephemeral fame. To be great eternally means to be an active, practicing citizen of an eternal Kingdom of Jesus Christ, and that means being Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. Lord please protect me from that shallow desire to be known and help me to learn that You know best how to bestow me on others; unless, for my greater good, You choose to keep me all to Yourself! And grant me the courage to embrace Your Kingdom rather than the shallow and temporary kingdoms of this world. Amen.