Can I Have Your Autograph?

TheDiscipleMD

A number of years ago my sons, brother and I attended a game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Philadelphia Phillies. My nephew was pitching that day and we gave him a ride home from the stadium after the game was over. He had pitched well as I recall.  We had to wait around outside the stadium where the players came out so as to meet him and then drive home.  As we were waiting a crowd formed all wanting to get a “glimpse” of one of the baseball players. What most of them wanted were the autographs of the players. As we patiently waited with the crowd from time to time a ballplayer would come out and the crowd would gather around to get the prized “autograph”. One young lady, who looked to me to be in her young twenties, wasn’t able to get close enough to get an autograph and in her frustration turned to me and said, “Are you associated with the team?” I told her no, but that one of the players was my nephew and I was waiting for him. She then said, “So you’re an uncle of one of the ball players? She didn’t even ask me which one. I nodded. She smiled, stuck out a piece of paper towards me and said, “Well, could I have your autograph?”

Later I laughingly told my brother about this young woman asking for my autograph.  He asked me, “What did you do?” I replied, “I gave it to her!” We both got a good laugh out of it. I guess some people’s hero-worship of famous people is so out of proportion, that they will even stoop to getting an autograph of someone who is related to a “famous” person. The problem with this “obsession” with the famous is that it implies that these people are “worthy” of our admiration and praise. It is almost as if we as a people are vicariously trying to live our lives through someone else. Consequently, the rich and famous become role models for the young without them necessarily doing any good in the world. I once recall hearing Dale Murphy, a two-time National League MVP and say something like, “I’m not any more special of a person than anyone else, I can just hit a baseball far.” He had perspective of what was important in life. For all the awards that he (Murphy)  collected during his career, none will be of more value than the service he has given to his family, his church, and the time spent speaking to youth across the country. That part of who he is, is worth emulating.

It is certainly OK to admire people for their skills and talents, but taken to excess, it can be damaging and a form of idol worshipping!

“Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made…” (Isa. 2:8)

Sometimes I wonder if our own land has not become like that of the ancient Egyptians.

“Then said I unto them, Cast ye away every man the abominations of his eyes, and defile not yourselves with the idols of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” (Ezek. 20:7).

The prophet Ezekiel was speaking to the Israelites who needed constant reminding that they should not follow after the idols of Egypt, but to worship the Lord. In our day we live in perilous times. There are many idols that can take our time and money. There are many people held up as role models that live lives contrary to the commandments of God.

I was reminded of how out of proportion idol worshiping can become when the day of death of Gordon B. Hinckley in 2008, happened to coincide with the death of a prominent actor.  The coverage here in my town was so pronounced in favor of the actor that I would never have known that President Hinckley had died without having received a phone call from one of my sons.  How odd I thought. How sad that the life of a great prophet was overshadowed by the death of an actor. One had “acted” out on stage the lives of heroic characters, while the other had actually lived it. Yet, fame and fortune and news coverage went to the “pretender”, overshadowing the humble life of a servant of Jesus Christ.

I don’t begrudge people success in their professional pursuits. But we should keep in mind who the real heroes are in this life. Let us not fall prey to “idol” worshipping.

 

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