Popular! It’s all about popular. It’s not about aptitude, it’s the way you’re viewed, so it’s very shrewd to be, very very popular like ME!
These lyrics (and image) are from the Broadway smash hit, Wicked. Sung by the beautiful Glinda, who seemingly has it all, she emplores her new friend, Elpheba to change and improve; to follow her lead and benefit from her teaching. Glinda is popular, and (duh!) everyone should want a life so “perfect,” especially someone so, um….green (or imperfect.)
I mean, really, don’t we all want that?!
A life of comfort, ease, perfection and popularity. The envy of others. The example to follow. The viral image with the hashtag: #goals. That is the goal…right?
Sometimes, it can seem so. Don’t you think?
Who doesn’t gravitate to a “top trending” list? I know I do! What’s the best-selling, most coveted, most prized, most viewed (insert person, place or thing here)??? We’re clearly drawn in, or there would never be a top-trending anything. Those lists happen as a result of the praise and attention we give them.
Popular trends and viral sensations are indications of our desires, and at the top of our cultural desires these days are: fame, wealth and perfection. Research reveals these as our current generation’s top goals. The problem is that these are illusions of happiness, and as such, they’re incapable of fulfilling our souls. Instead, these desires inevitably leave us feeling like we can’t ever achieve, do or be enough. Because we can’t. Our humanity falls short.
Perfection and popularity are veils.
Not only do these ambitions cloud our vision, but they cloud the true desires of our heart: to be fully known and truly loved, as only God Himself can do in relationship with us and through His people.
Even with this knowledge, it’s frustrating (downright maddening, sometimes!) how my flesh can get sucked into the headlines, visuals and marketing! They seem to be everywhere, inviting us into the “best” life with the best toned body, stunning home, fashionable clothing, youthful skin, smartest perspective, luxurious hair, best-behaved children and award-winning meals. I need to constantly remind myself of at least two lies within these invitations: 1) these are all subjective things, so nothing ever becomes pleasing to all, and 2) because of #1, this invitation is nothing more than a race to nowhere. It’s an endless pursuit with a constant production of new and improved releases and innovations. There’s a fictitious standard out there that’s truly unattainable, simply because it has no end, no arrival, no final destination. Ever.
This is what the veil keeps hidden, and it does so in an effort to keep us in an endless cycle of striving.
It’s interesting the contrast that God invites us to enjoy. He petitions us to be still. He reminds us that His burden is light. He diffuses our ambitious efforts and relieves us of our earnest aspirations to produce fulfillment. He reminds us of the work that matters.
Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:29)
When we rest in the belief of who God is and how much He loves us (so much so, that He sent a Savior – his only Son– to die for us), we also receive the gift of being able to secure our identity in Him.
What does an identity in Christ say about us?
- We are his children. (John 1:12)
- He planned to adopt us, and it makes him happy. (Ephesians 1:5)
- We have a fullness of power and authority in us through Christ. (Colossians 2:9-10)
- We’ve been set free; no longer slaves to our sins. (Romans 6:6)
- We were intentionally created and set apart. (Jeremiah 1:5)
- We are chosen, royalty, holy and special. (1 Peter 2:9)
- We are not alone. The Holy Spirit resides within us to claim and support us. (1 Corinthians 3:16)
- We are works in progress, being transformed into His glorious image. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
My goodness, that’s a LOT of goodness, and the list actually goes on…!! God is GOOD! He is good to us! And we are good in Him!!
He doesn’t want us to strive for our own glory. (He knows it’s wasted energy with a disappointing outcome.) Rather, He created us and fully equips us to give HIM the glory. Instead of seeking the impossible goal of perfection in ourselves (or our homes, families, careers, etc…), we can praise an already-perfect God who is, was and always will be the ultimate, sovereign, unrivaled, limitless victor over all. He is worthy of the glory!
The glory of God is the beauty and excellence of his manifold perfections. It is an attempt to put into words what God is like in his magnificence and purity. It refers to his infinite and overflowing fullness of all that is good. The term might focus on his different attributes from time to time — like his power and wisdom and mercy and justice — because each one is indeed awesome and beautiful in its magnitude and quality. But in general, God’s glory is the perfect harmony of all his attributes into one infinitely beautiful and personal being. ~ John Piper
Friends, HE is the perfection our souls seek, and when we spend time glorifying Him, versus ourselves (or the popular things), He fills in the unfulfilled spaces of our hearts.
Rather than striving for popularity and perfection, only to be hindered by their veils, may we set our sights clearly on the Lord, who can transform our lives in ways we can’t even imagine. Let’s trade perfection for possibilities and veils for victory. Let’s stop striving and rest in belief. Let’s trust in the truth that with God all things are possible, and let’s make viral something worthy of that kind of attention: HOPE in the only One who has ever been perfect.
Lord, you know our heart’s desires. You created us and know us even better than we know ourselves. You hold all the answers to our dreams, hopes and prayers, and You are sovereign over all. God, you deserve all the glory, and I pray that You would help us to seek You first. Help us to trust the plans you have for us; to have full confidence that these are the best plans for our hope and future. Lord, please help us to remove the veils of popularity and perfection and instead, rest in your perfection alone. You alone are worthy, and we’re humbled to be your children. Thank you that you love us and provide for us like you do. Thank you sending your Son and His perfect example to follow. Let my heart be captured and filled by Him without distraction. It’s in His name that I pray, Amen.