After about a year of living in Bon Accord, I began to meet people who recognized me on sight. No, neither for my dashing good looks nor for some kind of fame that had preceded me.

“You’re the guy who rides his bike to school with his kids!”

Yes, I suppose I am. In matters of renown it was a small thing, yet it was remarkable to me. I had never really been recognized for anything like that before. And far from being displeasing to me, it seemed to appeal in some small way to my ego.

Popularity in this vein is encouraged in our society. It is an end in itself. What better to be famous for than for being famous? Many chase after this, hoping to monetize this strange glitch of our capitalist-consumerist culture.

But being famous is inherently neither evil or good. It is a platform. What happens on the platform is another thing.

“News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.”

Matthew 4:24

We come to a period in Jesus’ ministry when His star seems to be ascending. He calls the disciples and they gladly follow. Crowds from inside and outside Israel are drawn to him. He does miracles. But he also has something to say.

In the next few weeks, we will examine his teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. But for now, note the timing. This sermon is not easy teaching; he isn’t tickling anyone’s ears. Jesus is glad to have ears to hear the message, but not interested in cultivating notoriety for its own sake.

Do I possess such a humble spirit of self-effacement? No, not really. I often care what others think of me. When video chatting I pay at least as much attention to my own appearance as to that of others. I often care more about my outward self than my inner self.

Lord, I must become less and you must become more.

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