In June 1966, an attempted assassination took place outside the Town Hall at Mosman here in Sydney. It attracted worldwide media attention as a 19-year-old student named Peter Kocan fired a shot at Arthur Calwell, Federal Leader of the Opposition at the time.
Fortunately Calwell wasn’t badly hurt, but the young man was imprisoned and after 10 years was released. But why did he do such a terrible thing? According to newspaper reports he committed this crime because he had always felt he was a nobody, and now he was being noticed as somebody. He certainly got the publicity on that occasion.
The Desire for Recognition
I guess we all like to feel that we are important, that we are noticed, that we are recognised—that we are ‘somebody’. I would say that even the most humble person has a deep desire to feel that he/she is worth something. I think the feeling that we could walk off the earth and never be missed is a depressing one.
Everybody wants to be a somebody! If we are concerned about being a somebody, the first thing the Bible suggests is that we may need to change our views about whose opinion of us is important. In John 12:43 (NASB) we are told about certain Jewish authorities who believed in Jesus but were not game to say so because “they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God”.
Jesus said that in the final judgement, “Those who are now last will be first, and those who are now first will be last.” (Luke 13:30). In other words, in the opinion of God, there are Prime Ministers who are less important than postmen, nurses of greater worth than neurologists, tycoons who rate lower than typists. It is not the position you hold in the eyes of the world that matters. It is the position you hold in the eyes of God. Jesus taught quite clearly that the servant of all is the greatest of all. The world, generally speaking, thinks the opposite! The more people a person controls and orders about, the greater that person.
Whose Approval are you Seeking?
Jesus said that the more people a person serves the greater that person! “If one of you wants to be great, he must be the servant of the rest; and if one of you wants to be first, he must be the slave of all.” Jesus said in Mark 10:43–44. If you want to be a somebody, the first thing to do is decide whose opinion really counts. Are you looking for the approval of other people, or the approval of God?
The Apostle Paul is known as one of the greatest Christians of all time. He’s the man primarily responsible for spreading Christianity beyond the Jewish community. He wrote half of the books in our New Testament. He is someone who lived to please God. But that wasn’t always the case. When we’re first introduced to Paul in the book of Acts, he was watching and condoning the mob execution of a believer named Stephen. Paul was very much opposed to the early church and made it his mission to arrest or kill as many Christians as he could.
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At the time, he was going by the name of Saul. And he was a very religious person. He followed all the religious laws and was quite proud of it. And as he travelled around trying to wipe out the early Christians, he gained the approval of many of the Jewish religious leaders and Roman officials who felt threatened by Christianity. And he did all he could to continue to please them.
Putting God First
But one day he met Jesus—gave his life to Jesus, and chose to live for him alone. He became somebody, he received death threats, had rocks thrown at him, was arrested and imprisoned, and eventually he was killed for his faith. But listen to what he said in Galatians 1:10: “Obviously, I’m not trying to be a people pleaser! No, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s servant”.
God has given you certain resources—talents, gifts, money, looks, personality, intelligence, and on and on. These are not bargaining chips you can use to win friends. He has given you these resources to use for his glory. When we see others in need, we should be generous. But remember, generosity is helping to do right. You can’t bargain for love.
“Some who are despised now will be greatly honored then; and some who are highly thought of now will be least important then.” Luke 13:30 Living Bible
Years ago the Christian pop group Petra made a big impact, and they used to sing a piece called “Godpleaser” written by Bob Hartman:
So many voices telling me which way to go,
So many choices come from those who think they know.
There’s a way that seems right to a man but it only brings him death,
I wanna go the way that leads to life, till I draw my dying breath.
I just want my life to glorify His Son,
To Make my Father proud that I’m His child before I’m done.
No need to pat me on the back or stop to shake my hand,
I just want to hear my Father say, “Well done, well done.”
When we put God first, we do become somebody, somebody who is interested in others.