Where do we find our significance? Without God in the mix we find significance in this world, because it is all we have. If I was to ask you if you feel significant at this very moment what would your response be and what would that feeling be based upon. I know from personal experience that is easy to complain about my significance in terms of the paycheck I get or the work I do being under appreciated, but are those really things that I should be expecting more from. God gives me each of those things and since I am His child my significance should be based on how He sees me. Time and time again though I find myself dragged down by the feelings that my significance is under appreciated by those around me and at points it has made me angry. Should I base my worth on what others think of me or on what God thinks of me?
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31
Let's take a housewife and she has been cleaning the house since 6am by the time her husband comes home around 5pm the house is immaculate. At first glance we see a dedicated woman who diligently spends her time making sure her house is in order. However, if we add in the scenario that she is having a dinner party that night, which is the only time she does housework then we have painted a very different picture. What do we now see? We start to see a housewife whose significance is drawn from the appearance's she makes with a clean house when others are around. I know that this could be a stretch for the illustration, because there could be a whole list of other reasons for the sudden cleaning, but we will just stick to the simple one, because this housewife doesn't really exist. Poof. She's gone now.
The same basic analogy can probably be applied to any particular aspect of our own lives that we start doing only when others are around to notice. I'll ask you, why do people spend fortunes on having the right clothes? What difference could it possibly make to be dressed in the latest fashions, rather than in something comfortable, clean, and warm? The answer is that our society and ultimately the view of what others will think of us is what drives us to find significance in the opinions of others. We thrive on what others think about us and we don't want to be disliked. A sort of go with the crowd mentality.
When we search for significance within this broken world the only model we have is what the world provides and it's lacking. The moment I was saved I was given a new model and from that model I saw the brokenness that originally I was blind to. Through God's perspective we see that we are not insignificant, but have greater significance that doesn't need to be renewed or upgraded as time goes on.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (ESV)
Take a closer look at any ad on television, in a magazine, or on the internet and what do you see. We're bombarded by things that we don't actually need, but that are being embedded in our minds that way. We lose ourselves in the crowd when we try to find significance without God as our model.
Let's talk about the latest iPhone release. What made people want to buy it? Was it better than the last one? Possibly. Was it more functional than the previous model? Supposedly. What was wrong with the previous model that you had (just a few months older)? Anyone familiar with technology might ream me for saying this, but both products were essentially the same thing with one being a little newer. It had a few modifications added to it and thus it was something completely new which made it a "must have" piece of technology. People coast-to-coast crowded stores and streets to get their hands on the latest piece of technology in order to find significance amongst their peers for having something someone else might not have. We are drawn to new things much like the ancient Greeks who loved hearing and seeing anything new, and like them we are instantly ready to brush off the old to move on, but at what cost. Not that I don't admire seeing new technology and what it can do. I sit typing on my old laptop and wonder when I'll be able to upgrade it so that I can finally get a better battery life and work on the go longer. Truth be told my current laptop works completely fine for my needs and gets the job done, but in the back of my mind it could be better.
As an individual who has been a part of the darker side of trying to fulfill my needs and desires through what others thought of him or having the latest thing I can tell you that it will ultimately fail and disappoint you. Our thirst is never quenched for significance and when we look in the wrong places. We find ourselves grasping more at air than at tangible sustenance for our real needs. As Christians when we receive the gift of salvation we are transformed for a new purpose, one that has already been measured and that we are capable of meeting because of God. A significance that will never rot or need renewal.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:1-4 (ESV)