A while back, I read the story of Oie Osterkamp. Now, basically, he was a very successful man in the US who went from running a large company that was called job strategies. That was envied as number seven on the 2000 and one incorporated 500. And Oie turned out ending jobless, had no money, and he was divorced.
And the story I won’t go into it; it’s quite a long story. But he made the right decision, uh, which was really a moral decision based over a business decision. Anyway, he says he had no job. He had no prospects. He had nowhere to sleep. He actually had to stay in his business partner’s bedroom. And he said, I remember my mother years back when I was small, saying, Whenever you feel bad, go and serve somebody who has it worse than you. So that’s what he did. He started doing missions for his church, and he wrote and published a great book. If you ever see it, it’s called ‘Being a share fish in a selfish world‘. And he founded a humanitarian organisation called Share Fish, which was dedicated to making an impact to help education and nutrition housing for those in impoverished communities. Quite an inspiring story, and he today is president of Share Fish.
And in his article where he talks about this, he says, I’ve gone from success to significance. Now that caught my eye. What does it mean to be a person of significance? Well, let me tell you another story. Back in the 1940s, there was a baseball legend named Jackie Robinson. He was a great athlete, but, you know, he was the first African American to play baseball, and back then he had to endure acute prejudice, racial taunts, abuse. There was even death threats. But he handled all that with dignity and character, and he summed up his life by saying, A life is not significant except for its impact on other people.
Now, there it is again, that word significant, and those two illustrations from life tell me how important it is to care for others.
Rather than trying to make a name for ourselves, The Bible comes up with some startling statements that make us stop and say, did I hear right, how does that work? And one of those is found in Mark chapter 9; Jesus was talking with his disciples, he said, “If you want the place of honour, you must become a slave and serve others.”
And the old translation of the Bible says whoever wants to be first must be the very last and the servant of all. Now again, here’s a startling statement of Jesus. We are not called to be successful, but rather to be significant. And the only way to know that you’ve become a person of significance is, I believe, if you sense God’s approval. How great it is to know that God approves of us, and that means having an impact on other people’s lives. So that’s why Jesus said, whoever wants to be first must be the very last and the servant of all.
Now that goes against the grain, doesn’t it? People say you’ve got to be successful, Jesus says. You’ve got to be significant. Isn’t it strange? Can you think of other statements where Jesus talks like that? Someone strikes you on the cheek? Well, turn the other one, he said. It’s hard for the wealthy to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. To save your life, Jesus said. You’ve got to lose it. Whoever is not against us is for us. The son of man, he said, came to serve not to be served, and another day he talked about the shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep in the fold and goes to look for the one who was lost. And he said, if someone asks for your coat, give him your shirt also.
So what I’m saying, and I suppose it means that being a Christian is so challenging. At the end of the day, many people walk away from it because it’s too hard, not because they don’t agree with it, but it’s just difficult to put that into practice. To be a convincing Christian is not easy. It takes courage and determination. And again, tomorrow I want to talk a bit further about are you a person of significance?
Well, Lord, we know people who are unhappy today feel lost and alone and sometimes abandoned by others that don’t understand. Lord, touch them with your love and comfort. And if I can do something, Lord to help, show me what to do. Amen.