What is it about human nature that makes us so concerned with the lives of others?
A trip through the check-out line at the grocery store inevitably includes being bombarded by numerous publications that make their money spreading the latest gossip about celebrities. Who’s dating who? Can you believe they wore that? Guess how she messed up?
Obsession with the day-to-day lives of others isn’t confined to celebrities. Facebook, Twitter, blogs and more are ways to check in with our fellow human beings on a minute basis. We love to be in the know…
What About This Man?
Monday I wrote about a life-changing moment between Jesus and Peter. Following Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, He had a picnic breakfast on the beach with His disciples (John 21). During that meal Jesus confirms Peter’s calling, despite his betrayal during Jesus’ imprisonment.
What must Peter have felt during that conversation? Not only was Jesus dismissing any guilt or shame Peter had regarding his denial of Jesus, He was charging Peter with the task of tending His sheep. I can only imagine what was going through his mind.
Oh, but wait…we don’t need to imagine…look what Peter’s reaction is:
“Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them…So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!'” (John 21:20-22)
Peter’s response to Jesus’ revelation of his future was, “What about John?”
I don’t highlight Peter’s actions to condemn him, more it’s because I realized how normal they are. I’m constantly comparing myself to those around me; whether material possessions, physical appearance, or accomplishments. As a parent, I compare my children to other people’s children. Don’t even get me started about comparisons in blogging.
You’d think, though, that in the area of spirituality and my walk with God there would be no place for comparison. It’s holy, set apart. Obviously not.
The Horse and His Boy
I love the Chronicles of Narnia. I have learned so many spiritual lessons through C.S. Lewis’ narratives of the imaginary land of Narnia.
One of my favorite books in the series is The Horse and His Boy. The book tells the story of two children, Shasta and Aravis, and two talking horses, Bree and Hwin, as they travel from Calormen to Narnia. I’m not quite sure why it’s my favorite, but it’s the one I pick up most frequently to re-read.
Towards the end of the book, there is a scene that has always stuck with me. Shasta, encounters a Presence while traveling alone. This Voice in the fog explains to Shasta the purpose behind many of the trials they had come up against in their travels. When Shasta asks for information regarding an experience Aravis had, the voice replies:
“Child…I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”
A few chapters later, Lewis reiterates the point when Aravis asks about the future of a young servant girl she had wronged. Again, the voice says:
“Child…I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”
Keep Focused on Him
Peter’s redemptive conversation with Jesus, Shasta and Aravis’ illuminating encounters with Aslan; these are major moments. Yet in these times each is concerned with what will happen to others. Instead of appreciating the gravity and significance of what they were experiencing, they asked, “But what about so-and-so?”
How often have I sought out God for guidance, asking Him to reveal the plans He has for me, and then turned around to say, “What are you doing with them?”
Each of us has a unique purpose in God’s kingdom. Comparing and contrasting giftings, callings and ministries is not what God desires us to do. Instead, He reveals to us what our plan is, where our path to follow lies, and then expects us to walk it while keeping our eyes focused on Him.
I can’t promise that I still won’t be tempted to check out the latest gossip rag headline or do a little Facebook stalking, but I do know that the most important thing is to not be obsessed with how God is using others.
My obsession needs to be to live out the story He’s telling me about me.