Are We Addicted to Applause?July 1, 2014
It’s a sound that echoes throughout the self-made kingdoms of pride and conceit. Its tone and timbre drives men to lofty pursuits and radical achievements. It can be obnoxious or euphoric depending on its direction. If aimed toward others it may become unbearably deafening; if aimed toward us it validates every effort exerted…it is the roaring sound of applause.
We do it at ball games, church services, award ceremonies, political venues, retirement parties, and just about any other event where someone is being recognized. Clapping can be a healthy way of saying “thank you.” It confirms our acknowledgment of someone’s achievements. Clap, and a child may be encouraged. Clap, and a song may be validated. Clap, and a teenager may feel loved. Clap, and a spouse may feel appreciated. There is nothing wrong with receiving applause unless receiving applause becomes the driving force of what we do.
Therein is the issue with many who are actively engaged in the service of the Lord.
Beyond the Applause
People are often driven by the attention, accolades, and applause of their peers and colleagues. Many work feverishly, and perhaps their entire lives, to reach a recognized platform. Fifteen minutes come and go and the onlookers who adamantly cheered you as a god has suddenly moved to the next act. Though we may walk away with a trophy, a crown, or a degree, we do so with little joy.
Such desires are rooted in a deficient view of our identity in Christ. When you have been accepted by Christ, no other validation is needed. Quite frankly, no other validation is comparable. But the glory-seeker in us all, loves the hunt. And though the hunger for glory doesn’t start out as a monstrous desire, it does grow with each feeding. Feeding it enlarges it and before we know it we have built thrones and empires in the name of self-recognition, growling for more in the process. Such is NOT of the kingdom.
The greatest achievements are birthed out of the most insidious desires when accomplished apart from the glory of God. Those who are positioned for service must first be purged from their own stardom. When our aim in life is genuinely directed toward the glory of God, the only disappointment we will ever experience is when men applaud us.
Someone has wisely said, “There are no strutters in heaven.” Glory alone belongs to God, and anything that attempts to displace glory away from its Divine origin is devilish and demonic to the core. That is why the cross radically changes our lives. It’s hard to applaud ourselves when our hands are preoccupied with rugged timber. And that is what Christ invites us to do. He calls us to follow Him, to make much of His name, to drive men to His excellence. He invites us to take up a cross, die with His death, live in His life, and experience His glory…not ours.
To that I give a standing ovation. To that I give honor and praise. To His name, to His exaltation, to His preeminence, I join the congregation around the celestial throne and sing, “Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God forever and ever. Amen”