Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Popularity Doesn’t Matter

Ambition gets the best of us in a world of comparison breeding envy. We market ourselves to fit our niche, and we try so hard, but we understand very little about the impossibility of achieving these sorts of goals. For instance, the dog-eat-dog world exemplifying competition—winners and losers—doesn’t fit with God’s master plan.

Popularity is quite an unreasonable hope. Not everyone, and not even most, will ever be satisfied with their levels of achievement in comparison with what they preconceived regarding popularity.

In this sense it doesn’t matter—what we achieve and what we don’t. Life is really too short for us to be tricked into counting how many gum nuts we’ve collected. Taking pride in our collection of gum nuts will give very little real satisfaction.

Popularity and Pride

Pride has a hollow ring to it. Only the most superficial of persons—and none of us, I suspect, will enjoy considering ourselves as superficial—will rest easy, satisfied in their pride.

Popularity and pride are truly synonymous; unless we’re blessed enough to be popular yet we can just as easily live without it.

Television reality shows have been a spectacle of popularity and pride; the best of these shows capture rare essences of humanity that touch each one of us (essences, by the way, that have nothing to do with popularity). The worst of television reality shows is the clamour for recognition on the part of participants, coupled with the envying intrigue of Mr. And Mrs. John Doe sitting at home imagining what it would be like to be in that world, what they’d receive, could they do it etc.

Like the other seven deadly sins, pride entangles us more than we realise.

And yes, even (especially even) Christians are entwined in the rat race of popularity; let’s listen to ourselves as we speak about our churches, our favourite pastors, best preachers etc.

When we realise that pride is a trick and popularity is merely a symptom of pride, we can set about rejecting it as a folly taking us away from the true sense of inner joy.

What Matters

The stuff of life that we struggle to see, that which has eternal value, is the opposite of popularity. In fact, if we ran from anything regarding popularity—the pull to be fashionable, successful, known or famous, funny, pretty or handsome etc—in sensible ways, we would know more about the value of the eternal. We might begin to see more poverty, more suffering, and more need in our world around us. We might begin to see more relevance; things that actually matter to God.

Our Lord is a compassionate God. As we are made in the image of God, we too were made to exemplify this compassion. Popularity and compassion are antonyms; they have nothing to do with each other. The clamour for popularity—in any variety which we care to choose—takes us away from a God-willed and God-purposed exemplification of compassion.

If we seek to attract popularity we attract loneliness. If we seek to attract compassion we attract the blessings of God.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

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