Earlier this week I was scrolling through news on ESPN on my phone, when I read the following headline: “She said yes; Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez engaged to be married!” I clicked the link, and was taken to an Instagram post showing her hand on a beach somewhere, with the largest “rock” I think I have ever beheld with mine eyes. And if I’m being honest a thought I’m not all that proud of ran through my head.
“How does this guy do it?”
Now don’t get me wrong, my angst was not merely about their impending nuptials, nor does it have anything to do with unhappiness with my own. I am a VERY happily married man, and my wife is EVERYTHING I have ever wanted, needed, dreamt of and more. Stunning and sophisticated, as well as the one who has made me twice the man I used to be, and would have been. I do recognize though (I am not blind), that Misses J-Lo is beautiful in her own right, as well as very popular and wealthy, and the two of them together are one of the world’s most powerful and influential couples – but I do not pine to be married to her.
Instead my grief on the matter comes from the number of times I have seen Mister A-Rod (will their couple name be AJ-RodLo?), pull himself off the mat just throw himself back down upon it – and then seemingly reap the rewards of being famous, in spite of it all. He was suspended multiple times for PED use by Major League Baseball, and yet, until very recently was one of the games top earners, having signed a ginormous contract prior to the revelation of his cheating. Then, despite his mistakes, he was traded to the Yankees, and eventually reached the pinnacle of the sport by winning a world championship. He then admitted to his drug use, possibly costing himself a chance at the Hall of Fame, but yet, retired “well” and became a talking head on television, making more money and maintaining his fame. He has since become a regular on the show “Shark Tank,” furthering his influence, been heralded for his abilities as a baseball analyst, and is now soaking in the limelight of being on the arm of one of the world’s most powerful and influential pop-music and movie stars. All of this even though he lied multiple times, cheated the game he “loved,” divorced his first wife and mother of his children… doesn’t seem fair does it? It makes you want to ask;
Why do good things happen to bad people?
How come, many of us who seemingly try SO hard to make all the RIGHT decisions and do what is HARD, when what is easy would gain us so much – are the ones suffering and watching from the sidelines, when those who lie, cheat and steal are on top? More succinctly put; why do those who are so obviously evil, prosper? Even Hitler and Joseph Stalin had good runs there for a while (and A-Rod is not comparable to either of them). In a world where right and wrong are a reality, how can so much wrong lead to what looks so right?
As I stated, I am the one guilty of these thoughts and MANY like them. I, a pastor and church leader, am the one filled with envy and desire when I see posts like these and consider their ramifications. It seems only human to feel the way I do, and that, I think is exactly what it is – human.
As with so many things in this world, I think the actual problem here, is one of perspective. When we ask these questions and feel these feelings, we are believing a lie and getting caught in the trap of one who would like us to believe that money, fame, and power are the most important things in this life. If we could just have enough of them, we would not face the suffering we do. We could buy our way out of it. The adoration of our peers would keep us from feeling the loneliness we often experience. We would leverage what power we would have to create a life that is more pleasurable than the one we currently live. In short, life would be a dream, a fairy tale – an incredible joy to partake and behold. So much better than what we have now.
But this has proven to not be the case, hasn’t it? The people who ACTUALLY HAVE all the things we all think we so desperately desire, seem to loathe their lives sometimes more than us. A plethora of finances, brings with it a world in which people come out of the woodwork to as for some of it, and you’re never quite sure if they love you, or what you can do for them. How many of the movie stars you see on TMZ and Entertainment Tonight, look happy to have their every move being detailed by paparazzi? And as a very smart uncle named Ben once said “with great power comes great responsibility.” I think there’s a reason every President who serves looks 15 years older when he leaves office than when he entered. Having power isn’t all it’s cracked up to be sometimes.
So if THESE aren’t the things that we should be drawn to or desiring, then what on earth is? The answer to that question? Nothing. The Apostle Paul asks it in a more direct way;
Galatians 1:10 (ESV) For am I now seeking the approval of man,
or of God? Or am I trying to please man?
If I were still trying to please man,
I would not be a servant of Christ.
The true goal of every Christ-Following man (and woman), should be to long for and seek the approval of our Heavenly Father, and to be satisfied by the knowledge that HE ALONE is pleased with, and proud of, us. That is what our treasure is. That is where our purpose lies. By seeking only that, will we ever find true contentment, hope, and joy. The evidence is right there screaming at us as it looks us in the face. It’s the reason people dying from cancer can be happy. It’s the way some of the poorest people on the planet can be satisfied with the little that they have. It’s the driving force behind people in the best marriages, friendships, and churches in the world, racing to give up the power and get to the back of the line. They have discovered what so many of us are in need of – the truth that the approval of God is the most powerful and probable way to find peace in life.
So how did they do it you might ask. By following a little more of Paul’s advice.
Colossians 3:2-4 (ESV) Set your minds on things that are above,
not on things that are on earth. For you have died,
and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear
with him in glory.
He says simply, make Christ your life. Think about Him, in every situation. At your job, in your school, with your family and friends – literally all the time. Finding true contentment in life comes through following Jesus – and that’s much more than a Sunday morning kind of activity, it’s a lifestyle. And the best part? When Christ who IS your life appears, YOU will appear with Him in GLORY. I’m not even sure what that means but it sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it?
So here’s the thing – A-Rod and J-Lo are getting married. And regardless of all the bad things they’ve done in their lives – I’m sure they’ll have many mansions, fancy vacations and people seeking their opinions about almost everything. Their spouses will be beautiful, and their cars will be too. They will have A LOT of good – on earth. But SOMEday (death), comes for us all – and ONE day (eternity), I believe, even Jennifer Lopez will find herself desiring to be the bride of Christ, instead of Alex Rodriguez. My hope and prayer is that for her, and for all of us, is that we realize our ONE day can start right now.