I picked up a copy of a national newspaper last week, as I do now and then, to fill in the gaps in the news that television coverage leaves. As I read through the articles I thought of the Sunday School class I was about to teach. The class was all about greatness – how our culture sees it, and how God sees it.
The articles were about people who were being lauded as great – a man who conducts seminars on how to become a millionaire overnight, another whose company makes "the Porsche of snowboards," and movie stars who, when they decide it’s time for a vacation, buy themselves a tropical island.
I pulled all of these articles out and handed them around to my junior high class on Sunday. The boys liked the one about the snowboards. We talked about why these people were considered worthy of having their names, and faces, in the paper. What had they done that was so great? It didn’t take the kids long to conclude that making snowboards wasn’t exactly worthy of the Nobel Prize.
Then I showed them the article on the front page of the newspaper. It pictured four young men in RCMP uniform. There were other articles about them, articles that talked about their short careers, their families. The front page mostly talked about how they died.
I asked the kids why these men where considered worthy of being in the paper. The answer was obvious. They had died in service to their community and to their country. It added a whole other dimension to the discussion about greatness.
It’s sad that it took the tragedy of their deaths for those young men to be recognized. It’s sad that we forget about all the other men and women in our communities who are doing their jobs every day, serving us in police forces, hospitals, ambulance services, fire departments, town councils and a myriad of other jobs. Why do we only call them heroes when they die?
It seems our culture loves to mock what is good, loves to ridicule what is right, moral and ethical. And when it does, it condemns itself. The apostle John wrote about this when he said – "Whoever believes in him (Jesus) is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved the darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." (John 3:17-20)
There is only one way to love the light – become part of it. When we allow God’s Spirit to enter into our hearts and minds, He will convict and guide us into that light. Only then will we recognize and truly honour what is truly great.