Thursday, October 2, 2014

In the Presence of Greatness

Imagine having the opportunity to meet a legendary figure in any realm of endeavor that interests you. Let’s focus on people that have already passed from the scene, since we know they no longer can do anything foolish to smudge their marks in history.

Wouldn't it be fun to meet Beethoven?
For instance, if you’re a lover of music and have an appreciation for the classics, what might it be like to meet someone like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig von Beethoven or Peter Tchaikovsky? (Assuming you could converse either in their language or a good translator was available, of course.)

Would you simply walk up, give a nod of your head and say something like, “Hey, Wolfy,” or “Hi, Tchai, what’s up”? I doubt it.

Suppose you’re a huge sports fan and could meet Jesse Owens, who not only earned four gold medals competing in track and field at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany, but also kicked dust in the face of Adolf Hitler, then a rising Nazi leader hoping to use the Games as a showcase for his evil ideology. Or maybe someone like Lou Gehrig, the great New York Yankee first baseman who became the namesake for ALS, or the astoundingly versatile athlete Babe Didrikson Zacharias.

Wouldn’t you feel honored to be in their presence?

Pick any other area of expertise: Science (how about Albert Einstein or Sir Isaac Newton?); medicine (Louis Pasteur or Madame Curie?); entertainment (Elvis or Judy Garland?); statesmanship (Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., George Washington or Rosa Parks?). The list could go on, but the point is, how would you react if you could meet any of these, or some other great person that comes to your mind?

Jesse Owens made an indelible mark,
both in sports and for humanity.
Chances are you wouldn’t take the visit lightly. You’d probably feel humbled and privileged to be in the presence of greatness, wouldn’t you?

Interestingly, we have the opportunity to do something like that – actually, even better – if we are followers of Jesus Christ. We can meet Him every day without ceremony, pomp or circumstance, simply through prayer and reading His Word, the Bible. Hebrews 4:16 tells us, Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Through Christ we have immediate access to God, the Creator and sustainer of the universe.

The people I’ve mentioned above – and others you can think of – would receive our homage because of their accomplishments and contributions to the world. If we would do so for them, as mere human beings (very gifted ones), what should our attitude be toward the Lord who made everything – even gave these celebrated individuals the talents and abilities they used in such wonderful ways?

Philippians 2:10 makes the amazing declaration that, “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” I understand this to mean all people – even those that denied or even opposed Jesus and His followers in this life.

The heavenly scene described in Revelation 4:11 tells of 24 elders gathered around the throne of God, declaring, "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."

I’m looking forward to being a spectator of that glorious gathering. Maybe some of those listed above will be in the crowd also, joining in the praise, truly in the presence of greatness.

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