Saturday, April 12, 2014
So often we judge success by how many people are watching.
Television shows are taken off the air if there aren't enough viewers. University classes are cancelled if there aren't enough students to make a profit. Some celebrities demand a certain sized audience before they will consider coming to a venue. We can make judgments on how "popular" people are based on the amount of Facebook friends they have.
Several years ago I was visiting someone in a Catholic hospital in the U.S. Each time that I visited I passed by a cute little chapel that was there for the patients. Each time I passed by it was empty. I felt sad that no one was using this sacred space, and felt sorry for the priest who I imagined had to cancel Mass if no one came.
I was wrong.
Several months later I found out from a pastor friend that even when a congregation is absent, a priest, often along with an altar server, still conducts Mass. The reasoning being that a priest is never entirely alone. There's always a host of angels standing in honor of their Lord and God.
Whoa. I suddenly felt so shallow.
In my focus on earthly facts and figures, I had completely forgotten about the bigger reality of the Kingdom of Heaven.
It's a Kingdom where many times our most important actions take place when there aren't earthly throngs cheering us on. Maybe it's choosing to forgive someone who has wronged you; refusing to gossip; helping someone who could never return the the favor. Sometimes the biggest triumph is simply continuing to move forward and staying true to where God called you even when it feels you aren't making a difference.
It's in those deep private places when life stops being a performance and becomes an offering to God.
Just like the hospital priest knew, it's an offering that God and all of heaven witnesses.
Hebrews 12:1-3: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."