Saturday, March 23
John 12: 37-50
Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God.
Young Life is a ministry geared toward High School kids that don’t have a relationship with God. It is based upon God’s extravagant love, as shown through Jesus Christ, who pursues us. Every year, they take a group of kids out into the beautiful mountains of Colorado for “the best week of their life.” As soon as that bus roles up other kids , whose lives have been changed by the transforming power of God and who volunteered to go back and serve others at the camp, walk up and take the bags of the new arrivals. The food is amazing: it is always a feast. The activities are phenomenal, and the hikes almost force you to come face to face with God. Kids are told how special they are 24 hours a day, both in word and deed. It is “the talks,” though, that can bring kids into contact with a God who knows and cares for them. In the middle of this camp, which is built entirely around showering kids with indescribable affection and praise, a “cross-talk” is delivered. In that talk, a familiar image is spoken of. This image is “the God-shaped hole in our heart.” Yes, it can get cheesy, especially for those of us who have now become prideful about the message of the cross. Those of us who think: “I have heard this one before.” And by those of us, I mean myself and anyone else who has the tendency to let human conceit overshadow the ineffable grace of God.
I wonder about that “God-shaped hole,” as I read about “loving human praise more than praise from God.” The reality is: human praise is never enough for us. Human praise never makes us feel complete. Like an addict deep in her addiction, each high was better than before and more is never enough. When we find our security and value in human praise, we are often left thinking, “if only they would say this one thing about me, then I’d be secure. If they really meant what they said, I would finally know that I matter.” In my own life, I have been transformed by God. He has given me many people who will give me praise every hour of the day. He has given me people who would talk themselves blue in the face if they thought I needed it. Yet, there is always a dull ache left inside of me. It is a hole in my being that is the perfect size for a God who wants to make His home in me.
I don’t want to accept the praises of imperfect, sinful, and frail human beings at the expense of the “praise from God.” When everything is said and done and we breathe our last, we will stand before the throne alone and naked. We will have nothing that we have earned while on earth. In that moment, human praise will not matter. In that moment, instead of those people that never could fill us enough for us to feel complete or whole, instead of that human praise that may have only served to mask our real needs or to puff us up, in that moment before the throne alone with God may we instead hear: “Well done my good and faithful servant.”
Megan Cullip, Deacon Leadership Team