Something happens when you grow up in the shadow of Hollywood. And you don’t have to live in Southern California to feel its effects. The shadow extends far beyond sidewalk stars and palm-lined streets, reaching into living rooms across the globe.
There, in our very own homes, the modern media preaches its self-proclaimed gospel from lit-screened pulpits. It tells us “follow your dreams and be yourself” all the while showing us which dreams we should follow and which self we should be. That dream should be larger than life, catapulting us to center-stage before the awe-inspired watching world. That self should be known to all, its talents recognized and applauded by multitudes if it is to be of any significance.
And if you don’t find that million-strong crowd of personal adorers, then maybe you’re not so significant, after all.
Maybe your life isn’t worth living.
Far too many of us have built our lives on the foundation of this lie only to be find our would-be masterpiece crumbling under the weight of disappointment.
As in Pixar’s the Incredibles movie, “in a world where everyone’s super, no one is.” It’s the paradox of this fame-starved generation. We’re told to hunger for world-wide significance, when all the while that banquet table is bankrupt.
This isn’t Hollywood. The average person will not become famous, while those who do live under the constant scrutiny of their so-called admirers. The sooner we let go of the pursuit of self-exaltation, the sooner we’ll find contentment
Consider what is now the most well-known name in history…Jesus.
What impresses me most about him is that he could have come with all the trumpets and fanfare of heaven, yet his coming was undetected by the wider world. He lived a virtually anonymous life until the start of his ministry, and even then he didn’t succumb to the clamor for earthly success. His brothers urged him to pursue a place of greater recognition, saying, “No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” Jesus replied that his time had not yet come. He refused to be enticed by earthly significance, even when mobs tried to crown him king.
His significance came from humility, servanthood, and sacrifice. From putting others before himself, to the point of death. He had three close friends and twelve disciples. Beyond that, there were crowds and multitudes, yes, but his greatest investment was in the seemingly inconsequential. Think of how small Israel was in comparison to the surrounding empires. Jesus never left that speck on the map, yet there was his greatest impact.
So here we are, in Hollywood’s shadow, moping about because we haven’t garnered a billion followers on social media or landed a slot on the latest Reality TV talent show. Depressed? Check. Discouraged? Daily. The constant striving leaves us weary.
Maybe our self-perceived insignificance is one of the reasons we’ve considered taking our own life.
Yet the most influential, significant person in history lived the most humble life and died the most despised of deaths, giving not just hope…but LIFE, abundant and everlasting, for the world. For generations to come. In his eyes, you ARE significant. And in his hands, you FIND significance—not in pursuit of the world’s applause. But in living the life you were created to live, surrendering to sacrifice for those in your own sphere of influence, however small it may be.
And that is enough reason to live.