I watched most of the Super Bowl this past Sunday night, and though the anticipated tight competition never panned out, it’s still entertaining. Watching some of the world’s greatest athletes compete on a huge stage is fun. These guys, to borrow an expression from another sport, are good—they’re big, fast, and strong. So, yeah, they’re entertaining.
What I don’t like is the showmanship. It happens at every level, but it always ramps up in the Super Bowl. A guy scores a touchdown, makes a big tackle, or gets an interception, and jumps up and faces the crowd. Look at me! Look at how good I am! Don’t you wish you were like me? The choreographed dance moves change, but the message doesn’t. Me. It’s about Me.
I wish I knew otherwise, but there’s probably not that much difference between my attitude and the one of the guy dancing in the end zone. His stage is much bigger than mine, so more people are watching, but the temptation he’s succumbing to knocks on my door too.
It probably knows where you live as well.
Of all the things Jesus talked about in his greatest sermon, he didn’t address anything as deeply or as thoroughly as he did this. I think he might mean it.
He did it with giving, he did it with praying, and now he does it with fasting.
And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you (Matthew 6:16-18).
The Pharisees were the football show-offs of their day, only their audience consisted of the adoring Jewish masses, and their stage was every street corner in Jerusalem. They strutted around and hoped everyone would notice how incredibly religious they were.
Me. It’s about Me. Look at how much I give. Look at how long I pray. Look at how strictly I fast.
Change the characters, their clothing, their city, and maybe what they’re doing, and you might end up at my house or yours, or maybe the church you attend or the one I call home.
The stage might be Facebook, a blog, a church bulletin, or a church pulpit, but the temptation’s there.
Me. Look at Me. Look at how much I give. Look at how many church services I attend. Look at how many verses I quote. Look at how committed I am. Can’t you tell how much I love Jesus?
The problem now is the same as it was then—it never has been and never will be about Me. It’s about Him, and only Him.
And when it’s about Me it’s not about Him, and God simply will not accept things I do—no matter how “religious” they are—when I do them for an audience other than Him.
Him. Look at Him. That’s a brief but quite accurate way of summing up the entire life of discipleship.