Last week I was brushing my teeth. (No, that’s not the first I’m talking about.) I was halfway through my Quad-pacing Sonic Care regimen when I looked in the mirror and saw two hyper-blue marble-sized eyes looking back. I was being watched. Crosby, my 18-month-old grandson had slipped into the bathroom without my noticing and he was watching intently my tooth brushing technique. He’s been brushing his teeth since before had his first one so I wondered why he was so mesmerized by it all. I finished and gave a good spit thinking maybe he’d want to have a taste of the toothpaste from the tube. But I was startled by the accolades he gave me. He was clapping his little hands and saying yea!
I was getting a standing “o” for brushing my teeth! That’s the first. Naturally I took a bow and then I got another round of applause. Boy, it felt good to be lauded for something so basic even though I was sure I was awesome at it!
Guess that’s my point this week. I believe chasing significance is a primary pursuit (see last week’s post), but I also believe that affirmation (approval from others) runs a pretty close second. Every person wants to be liked and appreciated and told that he has worth. And some, of course, go to great lengths to get approval. We warn kids about peer pressure and the need to be accepted and treated like “one of the guys” at too-high a cost. Kids aren’t the only ones who should heed that warning though. We all want (and need) approval and will often do whatever it takes to get it. High price because it might require us compromising our convictions? Yes. But what if we gain approval for something noble? Is that so wrong? Well, just like my ovation from Crosby. It, too, can go to your head.
I’ve been reading through Paul’s letters again, but in order in which he wrote them. I don’t know. It gives it better context when I read them in order.
It occurred to me a few years ago as I was reading through the letters the first time, that these writings were just that – letters. All of these writings contain such great theology and insights. They are building blocks to the tenets of our faith. But Paul wasn’t writing something that he knew would be read centuries later by the likes of you and me much less that it would be canonized and held as sacred. He was simply writing a letter to a friend, a colleague, or a group of believers.
In many of the letters Paul tells the reader how important it is to please God. Specifically in 1 Thessalonians, Romans, Galatians, Ephesians. It’s a major theme throughout all the letters really.
Standing o’s are rare and fleeting when the audience is made up of humans – co-workers, friends, grandsons. But the Audience of One can applaud for eternity and it won’t go to your head.