Monday, June 1, 2020

In an Infinite Galaxy, Is It Bad to Be Just One Star?

If you haven’t seen the film, “I Still Believe,” I heartily recommend that you view it soon. Especially if you remain cooped up in your house or apartment due to pandemic restrictions. We all can use an uplifting message during times like these. 

It’s one of those “based on a true story” movies, about Jeremy Camp, who would become one of today’s better-known Christian praise singers and songwriters. I mention this not to promote the movie, but to recount one poignant moment in it. Camp and his soon-to-be girlfriend, then fiancé and wife, Melissa, are in a museum, staring at an illuminated depiction of the universe on the ceiling 

“I’m just one star in an infinite galaxy,” Melissa says in quiet humility. Then the love-struck Jeremy replies, “But some stars shine brighter than others.” (And everybody said, “Awwww!”) Seriously, there’s wisdom in both comments, something worth thinking about.

Because realistically, few of us are ever going to become household names, the kind of folks whose autographs we clamor for, or whose names frequently appear in magazines and maybe even history books. Out of billions of people in the world, we’re each just one of them. But that doesn’t mean we’re not important, that we don’t matter. 

Because when John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life,” that means you – and me. And God taking on human form – “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14) – not only to teach and live as an example, but also to die for our sins, is no insignificant act.

To continue the astronomy metaphor, our sun is a star, although according to astronomers and other scientists who study the universe, it’s not a very big one. Yet without the sun, life on this earth would be impossible. The galaxies outside of our own may contain much larger and more powerful stars, but the star at the center of our solar system is indispensable.

And yes, some stars do seem to shine brighter than others. In the world of science, for instance, there are Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, Kepler and a host of others whose discoveries proved world-changing. In business, invention and industry, we have Ford, Carnegie, Edison, Tesla, up to visionaries like Jobs and Gates. In the spiritual realm we have folks like Moses, David, the apostle Paul – and of course, Jesus.

But that doesn’t mean the rest of us, stars who don’t shine as brightly, aren’t valuable. Behind every bright, bursting star there are lesser stars that have served as guides, teachers, mentors, supporters and models to assist the brighter ones to excel. 

Anyone who has any familiarity of the Bible knows the apostle Paul, the one-time Christian persecutor who surrendered his life to Jesus and became a leader of the early Church. He also wrote much of the New Testament. But how many people know much about Barnabas? “Mr. B” was the one who sought out Saul after his conversion, became his mentor, and partnered with the apostle on several missionary journeys. Then, when they had a harsh disagreement over John Mark, Barnabas left Paul to become mentor to his nephew. Mark became the fellow who wrote the gospel by the same name.

I hardly consider myself a “bright star,” but I’m thankful for the people who served as stars in my life, including teachers who encouraged me to further my education and become a writer; employers who took chances on me when I had little experience to bring to the job; and many who had a profound impact on my life spiritually, through their living examples, biblical teaching, discipling and writings.

Do you regard yourself as a star – or at least, a moon reflecting the light of Christ? You should, because as Philippians 2:15 declares, “so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life….” Whose life can you help to shine brighter?

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