True Strength Versus Notoriety

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“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18


One writer described Paul Anderson when he said, “He is the strongest man in the world, and he also lifts weights.” Paul had a lifelong motto that declared clearly where his strength lay: “If I, the strongest man in the world, cannot get through a day without Jesus Christ, how can you?” Paul Anderson certainly gained notoriety in certain segments of the world through winning the World Championships in weight lifting, as well as winning the Olympic Gold Medal, setting world records, and exhibiting his strength as he gave testimony of his faith in Christ; but he did not have the same notoriety as say a Marilyn Monroe, or FDR, or JFK, or Barack Obama. These personalities were known universally. This was because Paul Anderson did not seek to be as they, but to devote his life and gifts to the sole cause of Jesus Christ by establishing Christian homes for troubled young men that they might come to know Christ.

This is why the Apostle Paul said that God “…chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise [in the world’s eyes]; God chose what is weak in the world [again in the world’s eyes] to shame the strong [in the world’s eyes]; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God…Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” Just as this, “If I, the strongest man in the world, cannot get through a day without Jesus Christ, how can you?”

There are those who are notorious and world famous in the knowledge of the world, particularly movie stars, great sports figures, political leaders, and entertainment idols; but are they able to guide your steps toward eternal life, or is it toward a perishing end? The “modus operandi” of the world is so obvious that St. Paul could describe the world’s social environment perfectly in the first century. As Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, “There is nothing new under the sun.”

Are we ourselves guilty of being drawn to the famous and notorious? Is it because everyone else is? Our curiosity about their personal lives is such that we cannot get enough information. Does this description of the world in 1 Corinthians not give you pause to gain a correct perspective of the world and its infamous people over against the comparative perspective of an “all-seeing and all-knowing God?” You must fight the urge of a fallen nature of participating in the adulation and consuming appeal of those who will not allow you to boast in the Savior alone. The love of the world is a constant, mesmerizing draw to those who are otherwise engaged in fighting the good fight – the fight of Romans 7.

How do you guard against succumbing to the world with a “Vanity Fair” attraction or the “Greek Sirens” stupefying one toward shipwreck? By opening the eyes of your heart and mind continually to the appeal and persuasion of Jesus, “who was tempted in all ways as you, yet was without sin.” He won your salvation not only obediently on the cross, but by bearing His cross of temptation through an obedient life, all for the intense purpose of your salvation. You ought to live with His perfect example always before your eyes, as Hebrews 12:1-2 challenges you, “running the race of life with endurance, looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith!” It is a constant battle of the will, yet always emboldening your will through faith. You will fail, stumble, and fall, but He is there to pick you up. As Jesus promises in Hebrews, “I will never fail you nor forsake you!”

Stare the perspective of the world down, renouncing it as a perishing manner of life. Disregard the notorious, finding strength in your boast of Jesus, “whom to know is life eternal.”


“While life’s dark maze I tread and griefs around me spread, be thou my guide; bid darkness turn to day, wipe sorrow’s tears away, nor let me ever stray from thee aside.”

(3rd verse of Ray Palmer’s hymn, “My Faith Looks Up to Thee,” 1830)

 

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Stephen Leonard

Paul Anderson Youth Home