The movie “Amadeus” pictures Antonio Salieri (1750-1825), Court Composer of the Hapsburg Empire, as being very jealous of Mozart. This man Salieri truly captures what it is to languish in obscurity while others around us shine for a brief moment. Salieri ends the film proclaiming “I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint.” This begs the question, is it better to languish in mediocrity than to shine for one brief moment??
Irwin Shaw once wrote about Christian Darling, a college football player at a Midwestern university, whose life was changed by an 80-yard run, but unfortunately it went downhill after that one triumph. Nothing he achieved as an adult was as satisfying as the time he ran 80 yards for a touchdown. He always reflected back at his collage years when he was the idol of the whole school. Unfortunately his life went on a downhill course from that moment of triumph and promise, and he ended up becoming a boozed-out loser. That 80-yeard run ruined his life! He could never find that level of excitement again. Everything else failed in comparison to that one moment of fame.
Captain Meriwether Lewis, William Clark’s expedition partner on the Corps of Discovery’s historic trek to the Pacific, Thomas Jefferson’s confidante, governor of the Upper Louisiana Territory and an all-around American hero! But like the 80-yard run, he had no trails left to blaze and no countries left to conquer, so at 35- years old, drunk and depressed he took his own life.
Jesus said, “Life is not measured by how much you own…Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” (Luke 12:15;21, New Living Translation).
The question is: WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT OUT OF LIFE?
I was born in 1934, America was still suffering from the Great Depression. Everyone was hurting! There was only one goal, survival! So my dad’s goal in life, that he passed on to his sons was, “bring home the bacon.” Make a living! And do it without any help from the government. We were supposed to be self-sufficient, to “pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.”
There has to be something more for us in life than just survival! And more in life than just 15-minutes of fame! Are we destined to live on the mundane plains of mediocrity or is there something better? There has to be something more for us than just existing. Is it to become rich and famous? Is our mission to be significant?
So many people talk about their need to be significant. They say things like, “I want to make a difference.” I want to make the world a better place.” “I want my life to count for something.” “I want to make an impact.” “I want to make a contribution.” “I want to do something important with my life, to conquer, achieve, excel, to prove myself.” “I want to be somebody.”
If our goal in life is do get wealth, power and fame, here’s a significance test; Can you name:
•The ten wealthiest people in the world?
•The ten most admired men in America?
•The ten top corporate executives in America?
•Ten Nobel Prize winners?
•Ten members of the President’s cabinet?
•The last ten Vice President’s?
•The ten richest men in America?
•The last ten batting champions, American or National league?
•The last ten leading rushers in the NFL?
•The last ten leading scorers in the NBA?
Even the highest achievers in out society must answer James’ question and listen to his answer: “What is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” [James 4:14]. That sounds pretty insignificant, doesn’t it?
Let’s look at Israel’s wisest King, Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes, a man who had everything to live with and nothing to live for. The key word in the book is “vanity,” the futile emptiness of trying to find happiness apart from God. Watching the daily news, we are bombarded with celebrities who think they are doing something important. Or the very rich who use their millions to try to make up for something lacking in their lives. A lot of self-aggrandizement, self-worth; self-importance; it all just adds up to one word SELF! or SELFishness!
Clarence Darrow (1857-1938), was a lawyer, civil libertarian, and a leading member of the ACLU. He was known in his hometown as the “Village Infidel.” The story is told that Mr. Darrow was visited by a pastor near the end of his life. When asked to put the meaning of life into a sentence, Mr. Darrow picked up a Bible and read Luke 5:5. “Master we have toiled all the night and taken nothing.” No matter how rich, famous or popular he may have been, his own final analysis of his life was, wasted years!
Returning to the words of Jesus in Luke 12:21, “Life is not measured by how much you own.” Paul said, “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have” (Philippians 4:11 New Living Translation). Serving God and others is the only thing that makes life worthwhile and will count in eternity!
WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT OUT OF LIFE?